Tracy Talk XI

I had the opportunity to walk in the Middletown Homecoming parade on Friday evening with
the Girls on the Run team from Amanda Elementary School. I was surprised by the invitation
and decided to go for it. Who doesn’t love a parade!
When you watch professionally produced parades like the Rose Bowl parade or the Macy’s
Thanksgiving Day parade, there are no long gaps between groups and it is well paced. At a
community parade, there is less coordination and large gaps can grow. The Girls on the Run
team had a spot in the parade Friday night that was near the beginning of the parade.
The groups in front of us moved quickly and they pulled away from us very early in the parade.
The group behind us lagged well behind us early too. The girls tried to catch up to the group in
front of us but couldn’t keep up. Then, they wanted to fall back toward the groups behind
them, but got worried that they couldn’t see the group ahead. Isn’t that indicative of many
aspects of community life?
Families try to keep up financially but there are large gaps between middle class families and
those living in poverty. There are limited opportunities to move ahead. It’s too easy to fall
behind and lose sight of the opportunities ahead. In our schools too, some students move
quickly ahead and outpace their classmates. Many students fall behind in our schools who
need attention and you’re left with a few who may not get the help they need because
resources are given to those lagging and those at the head of the class.
My hope is that when we plan our community service in response to God’s vision which we are
currently discerning we will help bridge the gaps, help people move ahead and help families
succeed. One of the people who responded to our community leader interviews said we need
to look beyond quick fixes or providing handouts. We need to help people get out of poverty.
As Habitat for Humanity’s puts it, we need to provide a hand up, not a hand out.