Sunday, May 3, 2015

Tackling Poverty at the Root Cause(s)

By Rodger Dean Duncan

This was another busy week. When we look at our calendar on Sunday evening, sometimes the week is crammed full and sometimes it looks relatively free. But it always seems to fill up. The opportunities for service are limited only by our imagination. Fortunately, we are proactive people.

Focus on Poverty

On Monday I attended another meeting of the Prosper Waco committee on which I serve. The small table group in which I participated included the Waco mayor, a judge, and leaders from several community organizations. We were asked to focus on financial issues related to poverty.

From recent studies, here's a startling macro indicator on the poverty issue in Waco: among 16-24 year-olds, 57.3% are neither employed nor in school. That's not a typo. 57.3%! In this city that amounts to nearly 28,000 young people who are not furthering their education and are not contributing to the economy. It doesn't take much imagination to understand the ripple effect that has in terms of heartbreak and human suffering (hunger, broken families, crime, etc.).

As I listened and observed, I kept thinking of Henry David Thoreau's quote: "There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root." I wanted to discuss root causes. But everyone else in the room seemed intent on rehashing old talking points, hacking at the branches. I was frustrated.

Overall, about 60 people participated in the meeting (which was held at the Texas Ranger Museum on the Brazos River). I did manage to introduce the idea of mentoring young people (catch them before they "drop out"), and suggested that we identify 100 participants as a start. That idea seemed to get a little bit of traction. But to bypass the talk-it-to-death syndrome, I will approach some of my friends at Baylor University and see if we can get something going. I'm confident there are plenty of caring, capable people in this town. The challenge is to build a serious coalition and move from talk to action to measurable, sustainable results.

There is Beauty All Around

Despite its challenges, the City of Waco definitely has its attractions. As previously mentioned, we especially love Cameron Park, a huge and truly magnificent natural preserve. We also enjoy taking long walks along both sides of the Brazos River, as well as near its confluence with the Bosque River. The city does a terrific job of maintaining the rivers and the parks that surround them.

Both sides of the Brazos River, which runs from west to east beside Cameron Park and the Baylor University
campus, provide safe and scenic walking areas.
We love the Bluebonnet, the Texas State Flower. Named for its color and, it's said, the resemblance of
its petal to a woman's sunbonnet. These beautiful flowers seem to be everywhere here in the spring. This
field is right across from our apartment.
We enjoy walking across the Waco Suspension Bridge, now open only to foot traffic. Just north of downtown
Waco, the bridge was opened in 1869 to facilitate crossing the Brazos River. It was originally built as a "cattle
bridge," an important part of the famous Chisholm Trail.
Batching It

Rean flew to Utah for five days to help celebrate the Brigham Young University graduation of our granddaughter Morgan and her husband Kevin. Although I kept plenty busy in her absence, I did not at all enjoy being without my sweetheart and missionary companion. For many years I have travelled while Rean stayed home. And she has occasionally travelled without me. But let's just say that having her back in Texas with me was definitely the high point of my week.

What's In a Name?

As we do family history, we become more interested not only in names, but in their derivation. If you type in "Rodger" on the Wikipedia site, you'll find a bio of me, but nothing much about my name. Rean once felt that her name was "invented" by her parents, sort of a version of "Reo," her father's name. But then she discovered that in Welsh families there are a number of similar names, such as Rhiann.

Now she finds, on Wikipedia, an interesting tidbit. REAN is a marketing acronym first coined in 2006. In this context, R stands for Reach (the set of activities needed to raise prospects' attention for your brand, products, or service). E stands for Engage (the gradual, typically multi-channel, often recursive set of activities needed to engage the prospects you just won). A stands for Activate (the activities needed for your prospects to take, eventually, the actions you want them to take). N stands for Nurture (the activities needed to nurture the "customer" relationship you just managed to create).

Reach, Engage, Activate, Nurture. That sounds a lot like missionary work, doesn't it? See, Rean is a natural.

Life is good. Blessings to you and yours.

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