poverty, gangs and hope

Jennifer Anderson of the Portland Tribune Newpaper in Portland, Oregon wrote an article published today entitled, “School becomes a refuge: Sten initiative aims to improve area around Alder Elementary, state’s second-poorest school.” She provides an in-depth look at the difficult situation of students who attend Alder Elementary and their families, as well as the challenges of living in Rockwood Neighborhood, one of the most notorious crime havens in the metro area due to drugs and gangs.

This article is close to my heart, given that it is not very far from where I live, work, and worship. It raises the questions:

What can I personally do to help families in distress in this area?
What can my church do?

While I appreciate that the city is noticing and taking measures to bring relief, I feel compelled to challenge myself and my church to consider what part we may have to play. We have reached out to an elementary school which is closer to us, but given the extreme difficulties which Alder apparently is facing, how might we also take steps to meet their needs, perhaps even as a cooperative effort with other local churches in the Rockwood area?

Truly it is time to break camp and advance into the margins, where the needs are most potent…

Update at 10:15 pm.

I emailed the author of the article cited above to ask whom I should contact to get information on what needs I might be able to help meet at Alder Elementary. She replied quickly and graciously, giving me the appropriate contact information. I intend to follow-up Monday morning.

Is there someone in your local community, perhaps a school, family, or person who might need your help? It’s not too late. Reach out to those near you, even as I do the same in my community. Let’s put action to our words.

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