I believe that I live in a community that is filled with people who are compassionate. In fact, I know that we are, because almost all of those whom I have grown to know over the course of my life, are filled with compassion. I have seen it when there is a death and people send their condolences, or a fire and people send donations, or a back to school supply drive for kids in need. One of the most common things that I hear when people visit our community is, "Everyone here is so nice." And you know what, it's true. They are.
Other communities are filled with compassionate people as well. Despite all the threats that exist on a national scale in regard to the devastation that pieces of legislation may have on our populations, on a one to one scale, people overall don't want anyone to have to lose their insurance. They don't want them to have high premiums to have insurance, either. They just want something that can work for everyone, so we have what we need to get by.
Last year a local roundtable was formed to discuss the homeless situation here in the community. While we didn't feel that this was an overwhelming problem, close to 20 agencies took time to come and be a part of that conversation. To me, that was a real show of compassion. Since that time, we have partnered with the Missouri Housing Development Commission to have a "Project Homeless Connect" that will be a one-day event, meant to give direct access to services to those who are homeless in our area. We will be helping them to obtain proper identification, find housing options, help them with a resume and give them clothes to interview. We will also be giving their family a hot meal, taking their family photo for them to have, giving haircuts, and offering a shower, if wanted.
While we understand that this is not the solution for those who may be homeless on a day to day basis in our community, it will provide us with a better understanding of the needs those who are homeless may have when it comes to working toward solutions. Solutions are something that I'm most interested in and have been taking time to study what solutions work in order to better establish programs in our community that in turn will offer positive results.
One of those things is working to establish a laundry program at the Good Samaritan Center. Many families who are struggling often do not have secure access to a washer and dryer. In a recent Whirlpool study, families who were given access to laundry services had their children's school attendance rates improve 95% and the same percentage of involvement then for extra curricular activities. If we had a program that could offer that kind of return to our children in our community, that might change lives for the better in the future to come.
Another project that I have been working on is seeking secure funding for mental health professionals to be hired for our school district. In looking at our community compared to others in our county, our area struggles when it comes to mental health. Our area is also in an area that is deprived of mental health professionals, as we are "too far" from the city to attract them here. After a year of writing grants and being denied, for something that I feel so passionately is a solution for so many, I am determined now more than ever to make it my top priority moving forward.
If we are going to see a change in people's mindsets, beliefs, attitudes, and compassion toward one another, then we have to begin to show it ourselves. We have to take care of those around us who are struggling, whether they be the senior citizen that lives next door or the child whose electricity has been shut off in their house. And we have to make an investment in our people, by giving them access to services that will address their most basic of needs, if we ever expect them to then succeed.
I believe the compassionate people are just waiting to know what to do. They want to help, they just don't know how. As my priest, Father Larry Speichinger used to tell us, "If each community were to just take care of its own people, then everyone would have enough." If we are led in a way that is centered around what is best for people, we will find every solution we need.