Another chance to succeed

At what point is it acceptable to give up on someone? At what point do we stop giving chances?

Our society has created a culture that gives up on others too early, and too often.

On a regular basis we have individuals that walk through our door completely hopeless. Nobody will give them a chance, whether that’s employers, services, or even their family.

Could you imagine being turned down multiple times every single day? Read more

We believe every individual has value

We believe each individual has a unique value. They are a gift and a treasure. This view applies to every single person in our community, regardless of their past or current situation. We believe that by naming an individual’s value we speak to how they view themselves. Words and deeds are used to communicate this idea of value and, through this work, beautiful people begin to believe again in their own value. When an individual understands their value and that they are desirable, they become the most powerful instrument, not only in their own transformation, but in the transformation of their community.

Kalamazoo Community Foundation: Helping the community gain “Momentum”

Earlier this summer, thousands of Kalamazoo-area students graduated. But for a small group, the occasion was particularly momentous. These 16 individuals had reached a milestone in their lives: receiving their “diplomas” from Urban Alliance’s Momentum Neighborhood Employment Solutions program.  Read More

The most important conversation

This article was originally published on Linkedin.

I had an amazing experience a couple months ago, and after processing it all I decided I needed to share the contents of the conversation.

For a bit of background, I have been on a journey to understand the race issues in our country. More importantly I am working to understand the difference between being white or black, and what benefits there are to being white. This has led to some of the most uncomfortable conversations, readings, reflections that I have ever experienced. I have chosen to engage in this dialogue because I think empathy and understanding are critical to the work that Urban Alliance is doing, and I do not want to perpetuate any negative ideas or bias. Read more

Mayor Hopewell Speaking about why he supports Urban Alliance

A forth second chance

Is it okay to stop giving second chances?

When is it socially acceptable to give up on someone? After they fell down 5 times, 10 times, or 20 times?

As a society, I would argue we give up hoping for individuals way too early.

I was struck by an email I received today from a Momentum Business Partner. The employer had taken a chance on a graduate, a graduate who had fallen down a lot, a graduate who has 5 felonies and 22 misdemeanors.

Most would have given up on her, most would be skeptical of her, most would at best keep her at arms length, and most would be wrong. Turns out this time someone helped her she was ready, she is doing an amazing job at work, and the employer could not be happier with her performance. She now has a job, and also was reunited with her son, because someone did not judge her based on how many times she fell down.

Yes she fell down, a lot.

She also got up one more time than she fell down.

When a young child is learning how to walk, we praise them for trying to walk; we do not punish them for falling down in the midst of trying. In contrast, when an ex-offender starts to take baby steps to put their life back in order, we focus on their instability or their stumbles, instead of praising their effort. Maybe if we changed our perspective and realized many have been crawling, and attempting to take those first steps is scary and unknown, maybe then we will be more likely to support and praise instead of criticize, maybe then we will be more generous in giving our time to help?

How many times would you reach out to hold a child’s hand as they are taking their first steps, how many times would you reach out to catch a toddler as they are losing their balance, how many times would you want someone to reach out to ensure you stay on your feet?

So, how many times should we give someone a second chance? I would answer, as many times as they need.

The risk of real relationship

Human beings are made for real relationship. Unfortunately, we live in a world that makes it all too easy to bypass real relationships. We are more concerned with organizing our personal lives, and keeping things nice and tidy than opening up to that quagmire called real relationship. This thought is further enforced by the fact that all relationships are messy and uncomfortable at first. Read more

Build eternal and true legacy through people

“For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.” – 1 Corinthians 3:11-15

As a leader I am constantly looking at maximizing my time and efforts. As someone who loves Jesus I realize that this means carefully leading my life according to the pattern He modeled because I believe this will yield eternal results. This may sound easy but it’s not. We very often get drawn into building things that won’t last. Read more