Sunday, November 29, 2015

Pep Talk: "A Stronger Cord Of Caring"

Thanksgiving visits back home to Kansas City always involve the drive from the city’s airport, north of town, into the downtown area and crossing the Broadway Bridge, which spans the Missouri River as it turns eastward and flows across the Show Me State.

Just before crossing the bridge one encounters the old airport. It conjures up childhood memories of the family picking up my late father from a business trip and of the victorious Kansas City Chiefs’ coming home from winning Super Bowl IV over the Minnesota Vikings and delirious fans welcoming our heroes.

This latest trip to the City of Fountains sparked another memory. One of Luther Gulick, founder of Camp Fire USA, which is headquartered in the heart of downtown. For whatever reason, my mind wandered to a man who, 105 years ago, asked a simple question that started a national service organization: “What are we doing for the girls?”

The year was 1910. Gulick and wife Charlotte were watching young men march off to summer opportunities while girls were relegated to learning, whether desired or not, how to run a home. The Gulicks thought that was crazy and started Camp Fire Girls to give young ladies a chance to express their gifts and talents in other ways. I served Camp Fire USA (it became coed in the 1970s) as the executive director of its Central Rockies Council for a few years. We provided after-school programming in underserved parts of Denver. I’ve always loved its philosophy of encouraging kids to “work hard, make healthy choices and show love and respect for one another.”

So as darling wife and I were driving through Kansas City on the way to our hotel south of downtown, I found myself staring at the office building where Camp Fire USA’s national headquarters are located and asking myself, “What are we doing for kids in poverty?”

It’s a big problem in Denver. Too many kids in poverty and not enough resources for them. It’s the mission of Victory’s A Stronger Cord wellness movement and a major platform of my attempt at public office. We need to offer kids in poverty greater access to sports, music and arts. They need a well-rounded educational experience and less temptation to join gangs, which offer security, a sense of identity and money. As a society, we need to give the gangs some friendly competition.

The “What are we doing for?” question could just as easily be asked about those on the comeback trail from addiction and incarceration, or for seniors in isolation. The needs are obvious while answers seem elusive. We need to rise up and come up with creative solutions to complex issues concerning ever-increasing populations of isolated Americans in need.

As we neared our hotel, the downtown office tower housing Camp Fire USA was out of sight, but Gulick’s words were top of mind. “What are we doing for - fill in the blank?”

The answer is not money. It’s us. We need a stronger cord of caring for one another.

1 comment:

Fletcher said...

Hi Mark,

Just found your blog. One thing our church brought to us recently (which I am signed up for) is 1:1 mentoring through the Save our Youth program. I can't wait to meet the kid assigned to me!

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