In the greatest country in the world, it's counter-intuitive for us to tolerate poverty, hunger, and homelessness. To allow it brings into question our standards of human decency as we portray and communicate them to the rest of the world.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "Beloved Community" is a global vision that mandates that individual accountability should go hand-in-hand with local action. This vision is revived and speaking today into the lives and work of those of us who advocate for the poor. Hundreds of meetings are held weekly across Hampton Roads in an attempt to impact this problem. These result in efforts, at every level of government, to use political muscle to claw at the growing mountain that is homelessness and its societal ramifications. The true answer is simple, but not easy.
Our long term success is measured not merely by the size of our affordable housing portfolio, but by our sheer determination to create sustainable transformation in the lives of our neighbors. This is a long-term and very personal commitment, and not one based on compliance to the minimum requirements of the government program "du jour." This determination is powered by compassion and empathy for all humankind; regardless of geographic, racial, class, mental/physical ability, and socio-economic differences.
At the core of this work is an understanding that qualitative change in the hearts and minds of our stakeholders is non-negotiable. Those that attempt this work must bring with them a reservoir of personal power and resiliency. We must raise-up a new generation of regional leaders who are hungry for experiential learning opportunities taught by those we serve. These men and women must be ready to accept personal and professional accountability that go beyond the confines of a job description.
We would be remiss to speak of social justice in America and not address the impact that discrimination and prejudice continues to play in the execution of our work. We have translated others' differences (history, race, politics, theology, culture, values) into a reflection of them that is "less than" human, evil, and in need of fixing. This stands at the root of our inability to move forward in creating meaningful change through collaboration. Because of our need to "take the credit," collaboration is a contemporary value that we exhort, but don't always live out.
This is not a Utopian vision, but rather one that the Virginia Beach CDC (VBCDC) and Southeastern Virginia Housing Corporation (SVHC) strive to actualize each day. Virginia Beach CDC and Southeastern Virginia Housing Corporation are courageous and innovative nonprofit corporations that advocate, develop, manage and preserve program-enriched affordable housing both locally in Virginia Beach and throughout Virginia. We spend our days (and many nights) thinking about how we can partner with your business or nonprofit to revitalize older neighborhoods and develop new ones that serve a broad range of housing and correlating supportive service needs.
Our work at VBCDC and SVHC requires actively listening, compassion for all humanity, inclusivity, equal opportunity, interconnectivity, trust, justice, courage, and the highest level of respect and transparency toward each other (as partners) and toward the neighbors that we serve.
What I know for sure is that the time has come for those of us who have many resources, to join arms with our neighbors who desperately need our support. We have no choice but to step up and be champions for "beloved communities" where people can be empowered to live their best lives. The interconnectivity of our futures demands it.
Our goal is to create a beloved community and this will require a qualitative change in our souls as well as a quantitative change in our lives.