At our last WeCAN meeting Jan. 23, we discussed a possible agenda to move forward in 2014, to provide more opportunities for people to get involved with solving the basic needs of families in the Rock Falls and Sterling area. In our 2-year history, we have made some progress in identifying the needs our families face.
Identifying the needs: A first step is know what's happenimg with the schools, the economical situation, the population demographics, and civic engagement. After identifying the needs, we want to develop events that assist in mobilizing the citizenry around the proposed soluations. We need to be careful not to assume we know the needs, but talk to those who have the needs and hear their response.
In the Los Angeles area, community groups and churches surveyed the areas they were assigned to and just talked to people to see how they could serve the community. They asked questions like how long they lived in the the community, if they had children, and if the neighborhood had gotten better or worse in the last 10 years. Those taking the survey dressed in a professional manner because when they looked professional, people were more receptive to opening their doors and talking to them.
It starts with a vision: It starts often with one person and, hopefully, the vision will catch on. You can't wait until you have all the answers to do something about the problems. If you wait until you have everything you need, you'll never do anything. You have to start somewhere with what you have and where you are. Then we develop the details. We need to do our homework. We ask what others are doing and what are the gaps.
Mobilize the people: People want to help. They want to be a part of changing the world. Everybody is looking for a "bigger" purpose ... the idea they were created for more. We facilitate that greater purpose by searching for help within the church or local neighborhood. Who is passionate about serving people at PADS or the Caring Center? When people see that this is something they can be involved in that's actually making a difference, they begin to step up ... either voluntarily or when asked.
I've found that people rise to the occasion when they realize there's a need that they actually can do something about. When you know the vocation of people in your church or organization, as well as the gifts, talents, experiences, and abilities God has given them you seek them out. It's important to plug people into ministry where they can use the gifts they already have. That's the 'compassion principle.'
I'm convinced that people do have a genuine desire to help. They just don't know how. They need to be led. They need to be guided. As church or community leaders, that is our responsibility, not just to say, "We need your help," but "Here's how you can help." It's about just being very practical and sensitive to people.