Spotlight : Mercy Housing - 10th Annual Power of Home Breakfast
It was a pleasure getting to join our table for the 10th Annual Mercy Power of Home breakfast today. Thanks to Rafn’s Jamie Creek for captaining the table. While I enjoyed Bill Rumpf’s Top Ten, the resident Garson’s story connecting education and stable housing and Faith Pettis’ share about the Opportunity Atlas; the highlight for me was the quality of the keynote, Clint Smith. His commanding speaking voice, eloquent and articulate storytelling and best of all, his poetry, lit up my day. I am now following his podcasts – ‘Justice in America’ and ‘Pod Save the People’. He had a way of explaining the connection between poverty and a lack of opportunity that resonated in a way that makes non-action seem impossible.
When Clint put the history of slavery in the US into a timeline of 350 years and then highlighted the last 50 years it helped me understand how fresh the wound and how much work Americans have to do to heal. He shared the story of how his daughter sat on the knee of her grandmother, just like her grandmother had sat on the knee of her grandfather before. And that her grandfather had been born into slavery in America, it brought the timeline into a new perspective. He also shared stories of his students, including many immigrants, and their struggle to gain equal access to the American Dream.
I followed the event with a visit to Opportunity Atlas.org. I was shocked to learn that neighborhoods divided by only a street that were some of the highest and lowest opportunity areas in and around King County. For example, Arbor Heights and Sammamish have neighborhoods within those tracts that aren’t just a little bit different in terms of opportunity – they are literally 100% (or more) different in terms of predictable outcomes for people growing up in those neighborhoods.
It is events like these that help us to see more purpose and meaning in the work we do. We aren’t just building apartments, we are building homes that can change a person’s life. We are giving someone the opportunity for an address that might give them access to education or employment. Sister Judy Byron shared in her opening remarks this morning a story about throwing starfish back into the sea amidst a hundred miles of beach covered with starfish, so why bother to throw one back into the sea? Because for that one starfish it makes a difference.
For more information about Mercy Housing Northwest, visit mercyhousing.org/northwest.