· Our conversation with Kristin (therapist at mental health facility) revealed to us that there is a significant lack of resources in this region for people dealing with mental health issues. In particular, there is little assistance for folks once they are released from short-term crisis care. Kristin noted that on more than one occasion she has seen just-released patients walking down the road with bags in hand.
· Community: We had a difficult discussion about community and how it should be defined. (From my perspective) there seemed to be some resistance to looking at the community that physically surrounds Grandview. Several in the class noted that GCC is made up mainly of people who do not live in close proximity to the church. Why is that? What happens when we limit our definition of community to those with whom we live and work—to those with whom we already have much in common?
· Exegetical drives: We split up into three groups and explored our physical community within a 1 ½-2 mile radius of the church. Noted some development but many signs of poverty—empty stores, pawn shop, two thrift stores, a rent-to-own store, check cashing companies, etc. Discovered a significant trailer park none of us knew existed (above/behind Cherokee UMC). Two elementary schools within a very short drive.
Talking about schools led us to a discussion about who these schools serve—and who is serving these schools. Heather L noted that Central Baptist and Munsey have “adopted” Northside Elementary. Joe W talked about members of Kiwanis having lunch with certain kids at Indian Trail. Talked about how schools have replaced churches as a go-to organization for families in need.
· Yesterday, we continued our discussion about schools as “community/social welfare centers,” noting the things GCC is doing/has done with Southside Elementary. We then began to imagine how we might expand our efforts with that school—perhaps through the JC schools homeless program director or through Family Promise. Would like to talk to Central Bap and Munsey about what they are doing at Northside—what has worked, what hasn’t, how they are organized, etc.
We talked about how meeting the physical and material needs of students in a neighborhood school has value in the short-term, but in the long-term, there are parents (and kids) who need care, love, compassion, people and institutions they can trust, opportunities to build confidence and gain dignity. A tall order that will require a significant investment in individual lives, which will require time, patience, and perhaps trial and error.
We aren’t sure how to go about this, but are hoping to get Aaron Scott from FP to come talk to us next week. We would like to hear more about what FP does during the day with its families—who FP partners with, what they struggle with, etc.
In a conversation with Heather L and Beth B after class, we also talked about the arts as a non-threatening avenue for reaching local kids and their parents—noting the number of artists (of all sorts) we have at Grandview and some of what we do through two4two. An idea brewing.