A Look At Success

We’ve seen the statistics, and sometimes they seem daunting. The number of homeless people in Lawrence and Douglas County has risen in the last five years. Despite significant recent gains, Douglas County has lost nearly 500 employed workers in the last year. Nearly 19% of the population exist on wages below the poverty level. There are problems to address and limited resources for meeting the needs of a great number of people.

This is not an indictment of the many individuals and agencies committed to addressing these issues on a daily basis. It is, in fact, a celebration of them. It is an acknowledgement of what is accomplished on a daily basis to provide assistance and relief to individuals and families in need.

A Look at Success

For example, the Ballard Center’s early education program has a capacity of 58 kids. That is 58 boys and girls that will grow up more likely to own a home, graduate from high school and hold a job than if they were not able to participate in a preschool program. They are less likely to become divorced or commit a crime than kids without an opportunity to attend preschool. Each time a new boy or girl walks through the doors of the Ballard Center to attend its preschool, the likelihood of that child becoming an adult with a more stable and successful adult life has increased.

On the third Wednesday of every month, the Mobile Food Pantry convenes at the 4-H Fairgrounds. More than one hundred participants line up and await the arrival of an 18-wheeler bringing pallets of fresh fruit, vegetables, bread, juice and dairy products. This pantry is an excellent hedge against a fast-food lifestyle that is so often a primary source of nourishment for low income families. Last month, the truck delivered in excess of three tons of food to the participants. That much food is typical for this program. That’s 6,000 lbs. of food each month in support of a healthy mire nourishing diet. That is a lot of good food made available to hungry people each month and it’s all free of charge.

A Look At Success

On the third Wednesday of every month, the Mobile Food Pantry convenes at the 4-H Fairgrounds. More than one hundred participants line up and await the arrival of an 18-wheeler bringing pallets of fresh fruit, vegetables, bread, juice and dairy products. This pantry is an excellent hedge against a fast-food lifestyle that is so often a primary source of nourishment for low income families. Last month, the truck delivered in excess of three tons of food to the participants. That much food is typical for this program. That’s 6,000 lbs. of food each month in support of a healthy mire nourishing diet. That is a lot of good food made available to hungry people each month and it’s all free of charge.

Penn House offers clothing and household items to individuals and families in need for no charge. Literally hundreds of shirts, slacks, jeans and jackets are made available each week.

A Look at Success

Most of the clothing offered is gone with two days of being offered. Coats, jackets and shoes are in even higher demand and are usually off the racks within hours. Hundreds of people each week have warm, clean and comfortable clothes thanks to the services Penn House provides. The clothes are not only for warmth, of course. There are also the suits, sport coats, ties, skirts, blouses and slacks required for jobs or job interviews. The clean clothes patrons find at Penn House contribute to the success of people seeking work.

On the first business day of each month at 8 in the morning, the telephone starts to ring. The calls are from families seeking help with rent or utilities. The phone rings unabated, until the funds are exhausted for another month. Some people do not receive help, but many do. Many find Penn House as a way to avoid eviction from their homes or having their utilities shut off due to non-payment. For the people receiving funds, it is a chance to maintain their homes as a safe and nurturing environment for their families.

My friends, this is what is helping others is supposed to look like. This is success on a large scale, even if the problems being faced are even more massive than the solutions offered. Establishing programs that assist large numbers of people, all within a minimum of red tape. Offering emergency assistance that responds wo needs quickly and efficiently. Providing services that contribute to the upward trend we are experiencing.