Sarah and Matt were both working full-time jobs and raising two small children. They weren’t wealthy, but they were able to meet their family’s needs and live comfortably. When their third child was born with severe physical disabilities. Sarah had no choice but to leave her job to care for her new son as he endured several procedures. With a decreased income, medical bills continued to pile up to the point where Matt and Sarah found themselves struggling just to get by. Matt has been working hard to get a promotion at work, but the family fears that a promotion would mean they could lose the benefits that are helping them make ends meet each month. And that promotion wouldn't be enough to make up the difference, should they lose their benefits.
The story of Matt and Sarah is playing out in families all across the state, even in our own community. Hardworking families, hit with one unexpected expense, are sent on a new journey of daily struggling to make ends meet.
At the United Way of Tarrant County's 2013 Economic Summit in February 2013, Dr. Frances Deviney of The Center for Public Policy Priorities stated that of the families living below the poverty level (10 % of our households in HEB), 80% of them have at least one adult working full time, year-round. For these families, working hard is hardly working for them.
HEB ISD has a very clear picture of the need: 53.6% of students are at or below the poverty level! We live in a new day where the majority of these children live in what is called a food insecure population, or food desert. It is a proven fact that hungry students do not learn!
At one of our Community Ministries apartments, a 6 Stones volunteer recently asked a group of kids playing basketball: “What is your greatest concern?” Their response: “Where my next meal is coming from!” They speak for their families and neighborhood.
What is a poverty guideline? In the 1960s, the federal government developed a formula for determining the amount of income a family needs to live comfortably. At the time, U.S. families spent about one-third of their income on food. Researchers determined what a family of two (and three, and four, and so on…) would need to spend on food, multiplied that number by 3, and came up with an amount for comfortable living for each family size. The trouble is that U.S. families currently spend an average of one-seventh of their income on food. The number that was once multiplied by three would now need to be multiplied by 7 in order to determine a comfortable living income, but it is not.
Families like Matt and Sarah's need us, and we need them. So what do we do? We all join forces—families, churches, businesses, schools, local, state and federal government leaders—to create a community where HOPE is a reality and lives are transformed.
That is our mission statement at 6 Stones. And, because of the way our community responds, you have reason to be proud with the way 6 Stones is addressing the needs of our community. On the other hand, we must all be challenged by what is left to do.
The Internal Compassion Ministry – The New Hope Center is only able to serve about 20% of our community’s need for food and clothing. This leaves a pool of nearly 60,000 people in need. While you can join us in celebrating what we have been able to do, you must be overwhelmed by what awaits your response.
The External Compassion Ministry – Operation Back to School and Night of Wonder provide for 26% or 2,920 of the 11,091 Economically Deprived students in HEB-ISD. 8,071 remain in need of assistance.
Community Powered Revitalization – CPR has completed nearly 200 projects, with most being home to our widows and veterans, but hundreds more remain to be addressed. There is an overwhelming need for the elderly poor to have safe and adequate housing in our neighborhoods.
Community Ministry – This is the vital spiritual component that reaches into the heart of hopelessness. The invitations from apartment managers and the encouragement from our three HEB Police Departments are more than can be met. This unprecedented challenge is best described in Jesus’ words: “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” These various facets of ministry represent 10+ program sites with new points of outreach being established nearly every week.
Our challenge is often overwhelming, but it is not impossible to God. Instead, it offers us the opportunity to work together in a partnership with Him. It does not take everyone, but the 90% of us that do not live at or below the poverty line can play a part! It requires only those who sense this is of God and decide the time to act! At the end of the day, we are all friends and neighbors and we want the best for our community and for each other!
You have an opportunity to become a Catalyst of Hope! 6 Stones needs partners like you who will provide the financial support and volunteer power to confront the growing challenges in our community. We believe God blesses our commitments and multiplies them beyond our comprehension. Think of this as your opportunity to be in partnership with God! The question is not what will happen to the thousands of people if you do not respond; it is what you will miss in not partnering with God.