You’d be amazed at the number of business execs who put their time and money towards serving others. You’ll often find them quietly leading in the background doing the smaller and bigger things that enable and empower people who will never know them to live a better life. You’ll find them involving their children in this work at an age-appropriate level.
One of the service projects that I’ve done with each of my children is taking them to the Urban Hope training center in Philadelphia. In the Kensington area, the violent crime rate is roughly 30% higher (328 violent crimes per 10,000 residents) than in Philadelphia overall (242 violent crimes per 10,000 people). Drug abuse is prevalent. I’ll bet you a steak dinner that these crimes are drastically underreported.
It was my 12-year-old daughter’s turn to get exposed to a world quite different from small-town Northern Indiana, where we live. We fed homeless people while they were openly injecting drugs at a local park. We handed food boxes out in the local neighborhood.
It was heartbreaking to see what I saw in Philly. Since I was there four years ago, a bad neighborhood got worse. Through the eyes of experience, I noticed increased divisionism at a place already suffering from division. People groups competing for status. I saw more gang tags, more non-American flags on display, more loud territory marking music, and more separation between people. We saw plenty of signs of increased violence. We found deformed 9mm bullets that glanced off the stone of the local church as we were cleaning up the street.
The tension in the neighborhood was palpable. It felt like a powder keg that could go off with the right spark. The Walmart where we went to buy food and water to hand out to homeless addicts at “needle park” was ransacked twice during the riots. It was strange to be shopping at a place where the National Guard deployed to hold space in the recent violence.
It was a mess of a place. We were the first team there in around 18 months.
I did not care what a person looked like or what language they spoke. From the local police we bought dinner for, to the inexperienced young leader, to the locals walking down the street, to our group, I just listened and loved the best that I could, person by person. I met people where they were, listened, and did my best to pass on some hope and encouragement. This is how we teach our kids by example.
I know it’s been a rough 18 months between COVID and the political crap. We’ve all been off our rhythm in one way or another. But, it’s beyond time to get back to work. I hope you’ll find a way to get involved and not just admire problems from a distance. It’s time to get back to work.