Loving America Street

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How a group of young people from Charleston, S.C. have an answer for America’s Inner-City problems

 

     Here in Charleston, South Carolina, on the east side of the city, we have a street named ‘America Street’.  Although they may go by different street names, most every city in America has an ‘America’ street. They are in that part of town where inner-city problems exist, i.e., crime, poverty, drugs, broken or non-existent families, unwed mothers producing multiple babies, unemployment and about every other human problem one can imagine.  We, as a nation, have been fighting this problem for decades, but have made little progress. Billions of dollars have been poured into these areas in an attempt to somehow correct the problem, but with little progress. When the 1964 ‘Economic Opportunity Act’ was declared, the ‘War on Poverty’ begun.   President Johnson indeed had compassion and felt that, with the right social program, the problems associated with poverty could be alleviated. It was connected to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Head Start, Pell Grants, nutrition assistance and other programs that have helped many people, but when we fast forward fifty years, according to government statistics, the basic problem still exist.  There are even twenty million more Americans in poverty and the national debt is dangerously high! The bill was written with the best intentions, but has negative consequences that have canceled out much of the good. One example is that the more babies a single mother can produce simply means more welfare money. President Johnson stated his compassion for single parents and did not judge, but he also said that out-of-wedlock births is a societal problem and does drive more poverty. While this does not apply to all single women, it does apply to millions.  What an incentive! The out-of-wedlock births are not the major issue contributing to inner-city problems, but the broken family is! Many people like to blame these problems on race or the culture of welfare and entitlement, but we must look a little deeper.  Although the abuse of the system can and does indeed exacerbate the problem, we must acknowledge that similar problems exist throughout the world where the welfare systems are not as elaborate and where there is even more race variation.  In Mexico, Brazil, Russia, Africa and every country, you find the same problems.  As for crime, there are places in London, Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam and most any city on the planet that you do not want to walk at night, or, in some, even in the day. What, then, is the common denominator? It is thousands of young people who do not have the academic or personal skills needed to escape their inner-city prison. Mix this with a drug culture where drug trade is a lucrative practice, and we have a dangerous brew, all made worse because there is often no family structure to offer encouragement, protection and direction. There are those who overcome the odds and make it out, but far too many do not.  Since it has been established for certainty that throwing money at the problem is not the fix, what indeed is the fix? A group of young people from Charleston, S.C. have what may be the only answer, and it is all rooted in reaching out with love. Their story:

The ‘Loving America Street Mission’ was started by a young College of Charleston graduate, Samantha Sammis, and soon joined by another young lady, Amanda Chicago. They somehow secured an old house in the area and began to reach out to their neighbors. They soon grew to seven young people, each with the same love and passion, and the ministry was on its way. Including others who help through donations or offering their time, the number of people has grown considerably. What Samantha has done, with the help of her friends, is to put her vision into action. They have become missionaries in the truest sense of the word. They have planted themselves in the center of the area and become part of the community. They have built relationships with the people by showing true love and compassion. They have organized vacation Bible Schools, worked as tutors for the children, taught English to non-English speaking immigrants, and worked as mentors to anyone in need.  Through their block parties, Thursday night dinners to which everyone in the neighborhood is invited and frequent Bible studies, they are helping to renew America Street by focusing on mind, body and soul. A worthy endeavor for caring people all across America would be for them to do in their cities what this group of young people is doing in Charleston, S.C.  Throwing money at many of these inner-city problems is certainly a need, but throwing love and interaction is a must. Samantha and her fellow missionaries understand that both are needed for a fix. Your support is needed for this and other such groups across the nation.

Tony B. Ratliff, Sr.


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