Chicago is in crisis and people are afraid to drive through neighborhoods, eat at selected restaurants, and don’t feel confident that our kids are going to be okay when they head off to school in the morning. The feelings are palpable in neighborhoods across the city, not just in those that are headlined in the news every day. My work facilitates funding for a day care center for people who have been homeless and are now hoping to be trained for entry level employment somewhere; their children need a safe, clean, daycare that can provide food, clean hygiene, adult sitters and teachers occasionally, and serves over 250 adults daily.
I work in Austin, a neighborhood that many white people, and now many black people, will avoid. I get paid to travel into the day care center, meet with the residents occasionally, collaborate with staff and licensed social workers, and provide evaluation metrics of both quantity and quality to a board of directors dedicated to reporting out the facts of doing business in support of adults and families that want to re gain entry into a home, three meals a day, inexpensive clothing, and have discovered how to sustain sobriety. It’s a miracle in this climate and place.
Compassion draws me to my work. Thinking logically about how to have an effective impact on the kids themselves, I join colleagues who are brainstorming about strategic next steps to attract revenue to support expenses, food donations and/or selected purchases, security requirements for the children, staff and parents, and the time we all have to teach these children about how to remain happy and curious even as they reside, for today, in a shelter. Compassion It has offered to join us and play with them, teaching some directly, and engaging in “acts of loving kindness” toward one another; we may even be able to design an App for the older kids to track personal acts and eventually win the opportunity to attend a summer camp with a parent and staff.
I don’t pretend to have a lot of answers for the pain and anguish that permeates our city’s police system, our public schools, our neighborhood churches; but I do know a very good opportunity for intervention when I see it.