As a sophomore in high school, I had the distinct privilege of playing in a varsity tournament early in the school year. The good news was I got to play….at a level I really wasn’t ready for. The bad news…I got to play…at a level I wasn’t ready for.
I remember running into my coach after the match and him asking me what the score was. We both knew I had lost. And, we may have both known the score, but I really didn’t want to discuss that, so I said, “I don’t know…I lost.” He quickly replied, “Sheppard, if you don’t know the score, you can’t win the match!”
That phrase was burned into my brain for eternity! Not because of the embarrassment or the insult of getting beaten so badly, but because it is a reality in life, and it’s the reality for our community!
The second direction for 6 Stones is to Educate our Community.
Now that is not to say that this organization, its staff or board know it all. Far from it! We have been on a huge learning curve for three years. We learned from the city of Euless that once we get off the main thoroughfares, there are challenges in some of our neighborhoods. Some of these neighborhoods have been changing for years, especially those that were built when the Mid-Cities began to incorporate and bustle with folks like Bell Helicopter and others moving industry and jobs into our community. With the downturn in our economy in recent years, the inability to maintain some of these homes has accelerated. Now, through our partnership with all three cities in HEB, the score is becoming a little clearer.
The most enlightening, and probably the most telling score, is what we have learned from our school district. Three weeks after 6 Stones was founded, we met with Mrs. Ellen Lobue and the team at the Family Support Services. In 2007-2008 approximately 47% of the kiddos enrolled in HEB ISD were enrolled in the Free and Reduced Lunch Program. Today, that number is on the north end of 50% and rising at a projected rate that could be at 5-8% annually.
This was shocking news. These are the younger families in our community. We are told they make up about one third of our community. So the score right now looks challenging at best! It doesn’t paint a very bright picture of our future as a community.
But, that is the beauty of that life lesson, if we know the score now…and we’ll admit it honestly and openly, there is time to change the score. To change the future for our community, for our neighborhoods, our schools, our families and our kids.
We would like for you to see what the score is right now in some of areas of our community. The bad things or challenges we face, but also some of the good things that are going on.
We asked over 200 civic, school district, corporate and faith based leaders, “What is the score?” At our luncheon on January 20, they responded with what they saw as the 3-5 biggest issues facing our community. You will want to see their responses! I have had some of those same leaders already asking for the data.
You see, this community understands that if they know the score, they can make the adjustments to win the match! If we try to ignore it, the reality is the same, and it’s not going away. But, we’ve learned a secret that a few have known for a long time: if you will tell this community what the score really is, they will respond!
The capacity of this community to work together, find solutions and bring resources is amazing and it’s probably never really been challenged to its full potential. (If the economy doesn’t turn…we may get the opportunity to see just how far it can go!) But, there is something special in HEB and Northeast Tarrant County. People seem to rise to the occasion, especially to meeting the needs of others and in the community.
Our job – yours and mine – is to educate the community where we are. What is the score? Because the game is not over…and we’re here to win!
We will talk about winning next!