We were was glad to hear that the Benton County Daily Record was running a series on homelessness in NW Arkansas. It's a huge issue that needs our attention as a community, and so we've been anxious to read the stories since the series started.
There was a particular quote in today's article NWANews.com "An inspirational force to believe in" that deeply saddened us though.
Mr. Mac Childs, who we feel is doing some good work, made the following statement:
"Some might gain satisfaction by donating one day of the year serving around the holidays," Childs said. "But that's not what (uprooted homeless folks) are looking for. You can't help the homeless through The Salvation Army or Seven Hills. That's just bureaucracy. It's a setup like a Band-Aid and a joke."
The reason we are saddened and even bothered by this quote is that we struggle to see how this is beneficial to the stated cause and am afraid that it can actually work against those that are helping people? We are deeply worried that it only hurts the very people that we are all trying to help.
The Cobblestone Project has developed a relationship with Jon Woodward (Exec Director of Seven Hills) over the past 9 months, and we have had the incredible privilege of trying to help Seven Hills in their mission of serving the homeless.
We know that these comments undoubtedly break not only his heart, but also the hearts of those people who rely on the Seven Hills Day Center everyday to be a place of rest, relief and hope.
Seven Hills is an incredible organization, and the partnership principle that is diligently pursued as a result of Jon's leadership is inspiring. That is one of the primary reasons we sought out Seven Hills as a place we can learn from and help.
(Cobblestone Project interview with Jon Woodward in Nov 2008 during a Bentonville High School food & coat drive)
Jon Woodward has stated on many occasions that "homelessness is a larger issue than any one person or agency can solve". We would hope that Mr. Childs would agree with this statement as an important principle in the need to rely on teamwork and not try to do it alone.
We do feel, however, that he can act alone in sharing love, giving dignity, granting respect and pursuing steps of partnership, not just with Seven Hills or the Salvation Army, but with the City of Fayetteville, the United Way, and other Churches in NW Arkansas (as well as the countless other people trying to brings solutions and relief for the homeless).
We think we should be cautious about potentially allowing any lines to be drawn over who has the "better" or "right" solution. Working together is the only way to maximize resources and talents to meet this common goal.
We absolutely agree with Mr. Childs on the point that it takes individual people helping individual people, and when like-minded people band together to help their efforts are multiplied. Sometimes those multiplied efforts create organizations and centers to attempt do the most good.
Mr. Childs, we have no doubt that your role is necessary and we are sure you are doing amazing things. We don't want those to stop or be hindered in anyway whatsoever.
However, could we collectively and humbly reset the rhetoric and approach a common ground with one goal alone? A goal to bring relief, hope, dignity and love to those that may need it the most.
We are well aware that six months from now we may have a series of negative or catastrophic events happen that are outside of my control where we, too, end up homeless and in need of help.
If that does happen, we know that the first places we would go would be Seven Hills or the Salvation Army...and now we are encouraged to know that we could find rest and help from you as well.
that's an inspirational force that we can truly believe in...
Mr. Childs, we would like to offer our resources to you for any comments or clarifications you may have so that we may move past any short term and repairable issues that may have arisen from today's article. We can only hope that this is an extreme case of comments being misinterpreted and taken out of context.