Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Throughout the world Christians, Jews, and people of other faiths are celebrating the year end holidays. Many people will be spending time reflecting the meaning of these holidays, and the depth of their faith.
I hope that some will read this article and add it to their thinking. I used the story of St. Paul on the Road to Damascus in my title because, most people who travel, use maps to find their way.
I use maps too. Shown is a map of the Chicago region, with areas of poverty highlighted, and with locations of Catholic Churches shown.
Mike Trakan makes these maps for the Tutor/Mentor Connection. This week he posted three blog articles that show how faith groups might use these maps to build strategic involvement in many places, and for many years, so that the lives of inner city kids living in poverty are transformed, just as the lives of people of faith have been transformed by their beliefs.
Merry Christmas, Christians! Love Thy Neighbor! (Dec. 22)
Christmas Week! Help Us Spread Charity, Kindness, and Love! (Dec. 21)
Happy Hanukkah! How Jewish Faith Leaders Might Rally Against Poverty (Dec. 17)
These articles are not intended to suggest that people in faith communities are not already very generous in the way they help the poor. Our goal is that leaders use maps to build an understanding of where they are having an impact on tutoring/mentoring programs, and where there are programs that need faith partners to help them. Our aim is that there are numerous partnership supporting each of the tutor/mentor programs already operating in the Chicago region, or helping new programs form in areas with poverty, but without programs currently operating. Without mapping where you are involved, it's easy to look at what you are doing and think that this is enough.
Until we reach every poverty neighborhood, with well supported, ongoing programs, we are not doing enough to assure that more of these kids are staying in school and will be prepared for 21st century jobs and careers by the time they are adults.
If you would like help in mapping the current outreach of your faith community, contact the T/MC and we may be able to help you use maps for your planning and evaluation.
I hope that people in faith communities will use these maps throughout the year, not just during these periods of special celebration.