I am often asked by my friends – mainly my White friends, “What can I do?” “How can I make an impact?” “I’m only one person, and the issues are so many and big!”
“Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.”
– Margaret Mead
The issues are many, and they are big. Powered by a system of hatred dating back to slavery. From where I sit, they seem to be driven by hate and fueled by fear. And the hate and fear are rooted in a genuine lack of understanding and knowledge about people that do not look, think or act like you. You don’t know the other person, so you believe the “fake news” you hear about them. So it goes without saying that having compassion for someone you know not, is a far stretch.
But not impossible!
Here in Elk Grove, at Uplift People of Elk Grove, we are working to do just that, striving to live compassionately with our neighbors. Not sympathetic pity, but genuine concern for what matters in the lives of others. We listen, find understanding and share feelings with another. And when necessary and possible, we act on that shared understanding to create a better community.
“The first step to any form of action is awareness.”
– Mellody Hobson, Investment Expert
Uplift People of Elk Grove is a new initiative, organized in 2017 by a concerned group of Elk Grove citizens wanting an end very much to poverty in Elk Grove. For this group, it was not about giving people a fish, but instead teaching them how to fish.
The mission of the program is to break the cycle of poverty for low-income residents of Elk Grove by building well-being – rethinking poverty, reframing solutions in partnership with the community. Through education and intentional relationships, our goal is to restore abundance for families and individuals and bridge the cultural and socioeconomic class lines that divide us. Program goals are achieved through free weekly evening meetings open to families with children, and inclusive of a family-style meal, followed by education for adults and children separately.
Every Tuesday evening 30 folk, children and adults, gather at Elk Grove United Methodist Church to build relationships that are not based on being color blind but based on being “color brave” (Mellody Hobson, TED2014, March 2014). These are people that don’t think, look or act alike. What we do have in common is a desire for change, on a personal and community level, evidenced through conversations, sharing of life events, common courtesies, genuine caring, and much compassion.
If you know of someone that is living in poverty and might benefit from the program as a Champion for Change or If you’d like to share in the experience by becoming an Ally, please contact Teri McClanahan, 916-241-3052 or Jeff Teague, 916-900-6991 for additional information.
Teri McClanahan is a Co-Coordinator for the Uplift People of Elk Grove Initiative. She is also a blogger and professional grant writer of 20 years. If you’d like more information about Ms. McClanahan, you can read her blogs at www.terimcclanahan.net or get information on her grant writing at www.tdmcclanahan.com.