Sheila Edwards Howard Share the Plan
I lived in that world not so long ago. Stuck in that dark place of lack and financial uncertainty. I experienced the stress of not knowing what was going to happen to me and/or my children…how we would survive. My disability income was not enough. I was on the brink of desperation, almost to the point of questionable judgment. I was always thinking, “If I could just…”
I grew up in Chicago’s K-Town. I remember standing in the middle of my living room window one day, watching the sweet little boys I’d come to know in my community outside playing. I grew up with and knew of the fates of many of their fathers, uncles, and brothers: imprisonment, abandonment, and death. My heart was heavy when I asked God, “Lord what can I do to help the children and change this cycle of madness?” I understood the whys; yes, we all properly assigned the blame, but what was the solution?
Thirty years later I got an answer. The problem was lack and disparity; the answer was light of hope.
The lack of education, finances, and awareness of available help from both the government and the community created hopelessness, which created desperation, which many times led to crime. I was fortunate in that I learned how to search for help, but so many get tired and filled with despair and desperation long before they reach the door with the light behind it. They settle for the “this is my life” mindset. It’s much easier to learn how to survive in the urban jungle than it is to venture out into the unknown and constantly have doors closed in your face because you went to the wrong door.
My plan is to make a light at the end of the tunnel, a roadmap to help those who need it. People can make different decisions when they have different choices. If we lay the possible answers to problems at the fingertips of those in need and let them know the answers are there, prayerfully we can renew the hope lost because of their present reality. We call this roadmap the “LIGHT NETWORK.”
We do the initial work to find the resources, sort of a hand-up. We do the work to find all the help that is available in a community and put it in one place so if one answer doesn’t work there is another option to highlight. Choices; that is where there appears to be the biggest lack, or gap, in our urban communities. We aim to help fight crime at the root, heart, and: home, where the original problems start. When we can see the light, we can walk toward it and climb out of the dark, hopeless mindset. If we can get people to “Think First” and choose better options, we can help fight crime, one good decision at a time.
The first step: reaching out to the leaders of the community and government organizations to help spread the message of hope and self-accountability. We will supply the glow-in-the-dark bands, and community heads will supply the messages One unified message, be the difference...be a light!
The second step: go into the schools to speak directly with the youth who are most affected.
The third step: start a focused marketing campaign to seek out jobs/work for hard to employee individuals.
The fourth step: open youth community centers that will offer a “safe place” for our children to go after school when their parents are yet at work and in the summer…some place they can afford.
We can do this! We change our community if we plant seeds of hope (light) one person at a time. Know this, every small thing you do to make a difference makes a difference, whether you get to see it or not.
TAKE THE TIME! GET INVOLVED! BE A LIGHT!