Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Calling all Hunger Justice Leaders, ages 18-35!

Join me in applying to become one of Bread for the World's Hunger Justice Leaders. The award is an all-expense paid leadership training from June 14-17 in Washington, DC. The application is very brief, and mostly involves a 500-750 word personal statement. Mine is pasted below.

Every day, I go to work above the largest food pantry in North Texas. The path to my office is often packed shoulder-to-shoulder with hard working men whose wages are too low to cover both the rent and the grocery bill; young mothers whose only wish is to keep their babies healthy and well; seniors who go hungry rather than forego their life-sustaining medication.

These are not people whose bad choices landed them on the other side of the bread line. These are my neighbors. These are my brothers and sisters: fellow children of God who, like me, yearn for nothing more than a chance to use their talents to care for themselves and their families.

I grew up in the church. I went to religious schools my entire life, from kindergarten through college. I have studied the holy books of all the world’s religions, and seen my own brother stand before the altar to pledge his commitment to Christ as a priest of the Cistercian Order. God’s hand has guided much of my life.

Yet I have never seen His face more clearly than when I pass through the halls of my organization’s food pantry.

His voice speaks through the silence of those who come to us in need, whom we invite in not as “clients” but as partners in a shared effort to build community in this city that we love. The Holy Spirit’s presence is palpable when I wrap my arms around my neighbor whose bed is a box behind our building.

I am the Director of Development for Central Dallas Ministries. In some ways, my job is to raise funds for my organization’s efforts to end hunger in our community. In that role, I’ve had the privilege of seeing my organization’s revenues nearly double over the past three years.

Yet this is no achievement.

This is a testament to our failure as a community. Why should the area’s largest food pantry continue to grow each year for more than two decades? Why should neighbor after neighbor need to stand in line to receive food from our resource center? Why, above all, are there more churches in my community than homeless people – and yet so many of my friends continue to have no home? Night after night, they fight for sleep as a brief respite from the reminder that their situation could be solved if only each church in our town would take one of them into their care as did the Samaritan who did not even know of the glory that is our Jesus.

I will confess, I have occasionally left my office in tears because of our “success.” Every gift I secure for my organization helps us to feed more families, but these gifts alone will never solve the problems faced by my neighbors who rely on Central Dallas Ministries for support.

Our success can only be measured in our ability to put ourselves out of business.

We are yet many years away from that ambitious goal. With your help, I will use the 2008 Hunger Justice Leaders training to drive my organization closer to the day when no one qualifies for its services. I will take the knowledge gained from this event and apply it not only to my work as a fundraiser, but to my calling as a community organizer and to my daily life as a neighbor to those who suffer from chronic hunger.

I will use this opportunity to strengthen the network of committed Christians whose lives are similarly dedicated to capitalizing on this unique moment in the history of the world . . . when we finally have the knowledge and capacity to change the policies that perpetuate chronic hunger and generational poverty.

With your support, I will more firmly plant my feet in the ground and my shoulder more squarely against the wheel of change.

Together, as neighbors and friends, we can end hunger. Thank you for considering my application.

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