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Acts Metro – Empowering District 5 families in crisis
You’ve probably heard the saying, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” If this is true, then why do we continue to struggle with issues related to poverty and dependence?
There are many organizations that assist families in crisis in our community with basic needs like shelter, food and clothing. There are others that help with bills, employment, health care, education, child care, etc. Yet the poverty rates in our area are increasing. Why? Because all the fishing poles, bait and fishing classes in the world aren’t enough if these resources and skills are never applied.
That’s where Acts Metro comes in. Application is our specialty. Working with social workers in the Lexington/ Richland 5 schools, Acts Metro pairs families in crisis with trained mentors who walk with them for a year. We assist with basic needs, but we also empower them socially, financially, emotionally, and spiritually. It’s our goal that through the influence of their mentor, the individualized action plans they make every 60 days and a new community of support, that our families will break through the barrier of despair and dependence to a life of hope and self-sufficiency.
Empowering long term change is not a quick or simple process. Yet we have seen many of our families make life transforming, trajectory altering changes during their year in Acts Metro. We’ve had families that have moved from homelessness to a stable living environment; from joblessness to a career; from financial crisis to fiscal stability; from standing alone to being surrounded by a caring community and from emotional despair to enduring hope.
These are such life altering changes that we’re seeing parents who came through Acts Metro volunteering to be mentors. Once you’ve been taught how to fish, you can’t help but want to teach others!
To contribute to this cause call me at 401-663-4284.
What’s In A Name?
OUR FUTURE, OUR RESPONSIBILITY
By: Ken Clark
The landscape is drastically changing in the Irmo-Chapin area, the place where I was born and raised and continue to live. Urban sprawl is taking over. Development has been approaching our area for years and catches your attention when it comes knocking at your door.
I wasn’t naïve enough to think our area would be spared but this intense development that’s flooding in has raised some questions and comments in this country boy’s mind. I’ll be sharing them with you throughout this article. There is one question that keeps nagging me more than the others. Are we being good stewards of God’s creation? A steward being one who is entrusted with other’s property to care for, manage, use and enjoy until the owner returns. The owner being God. Think about stewardship as you read this article.
I’ll admit from the start I am bias when discussing the topic of being a good steward of God’s creation and urban sprawl because I grew up in the Dutch Fork’s beautiful countryside loving nature, wildlife, trees, creeks, honey suckle, crickets and frogs serenading you at night, freedom and space, therefore witnessing firsthand the beauty of the outdoors with its therapeutic power to refresh the soul and the awesome power of God reflected in nature and all of creation. So many people have never witnessed these acts of nature and can’t totally and truthfully relate to this experience.
In our church liturgy almost every Sunday morning, we pray for God to give us the desire, drive, wisdom and that heartfelt responsibility to care for creation, managing it well, using it wisely and remembering future generations will experience this creation in whatever condition we pass along to them, good or bad.
When I go to the barbershop, grocery store, work and church, I sometimes get into conversations concerning development in the Irmo-Chapin area. Some of their comments are “All this development is hurting the environment”, “The wildlife is confused and has no place to go”, “Greed is at the root of it”, “Developers run the county”, “It’s all political”, “If development doesn’t come close to me, it doesn’t bother me” and “It’s out of balance”. I don’t know the percentage of folks who see a need for a greater balance in development, protection of our environment and protected green space but based on the folks I’ve talked to it’s quite a few. There are those who come to the county council meetings when their property is in close proximity to the proposed development, they express concern about the additional traffic congestion, roads being unsafe, zoning being too dense, or say they don’t want any new development in their area. These things do need to be addressed and thank goodness these folks speak out but the council members have heard these comments a thousand times. Why don’t more folks come to the meetings? Could the reason be that they feel “It won’t do any good”, “I’m wasting my time” or “They’re going to do what they want to anyway”. If we genuinely seek a change in developmental practices, it’s going to take an organized, combined, consistent effort with suggestions, solutions and alternatives.
I’d be the first to say the need for housing accommodating different sized budgets and families must be met because there are folks moving in with different needs at different stages of their lives. These needs must be met along with the infrastructure to support it.
Development provides a place for people to live and raise their families. It creates jobs which generates an income so these families can be supported. It creates commercial development such as Wal-Mart’s, grocery stores, fast food, etc. which meets the needs of a growing community.
Providing all these things plus keeping an eye on good stewardship is a challenge for our leaders who need our support, encouragement and our input, pros and cons, so they might be interested in finding that balance we desperately need. By the way, whether appointed or elected, whether they wanted this responsibility of listening to constituents and finding solutions, they accepted it when they took office. Unfortunately, as with many other issues, attempting to find this balance can be a political football which makes it more difficult to accomplish what could be accomplished and what should be accomplished.
Questions to Ponder
How can we furnish these necessities of life and not overcrowd our countryside with homes, overcrowd our existing schools so that new schools have to be constantly built, congest our road so that existing roads can’t possibly efficiently handle the increase and over burden our police and fire service who are stretched thin already?
How can we not frustrate residents with overdevelopment and traffic congestion so they won’t move so rapidly to less populated, greener pasture areas which could leave behind unstable communities, thus creating other problems that have to be dealt with later?
How can we set aside enough green space for parks, recreation and unspoiled wildlife habitat with connecting corridors so that wildlife can have shelter, food and water, a place to raise
their young in peace? According to Sammy Fretwell’s article in The State, Date ? 2013, Section A, “Climate”, “We will need to protect wide swaths of forest to adequately soak up carbon dioxide.”
Is it possible to eliminate redundant and burdensome laws and regulations and still maintain high environmental standards while lowering the cost to the developer, builder and consumer therefore making conservation efforts more appealing?
Do the current zoning laws encourage responsible and balanced development? Who serves on the zoning and planning committee? Are they appointed or elected?
Are truthful, unbiased studies done on the impact development will have in a given area on the environment, ground water, runoff into our creeks and rivers, impact on roads, schools, wildlife, green space and wetlands?
Does the planning commission, county council, developers, home builders associations and realtors ever sit down together to make long range plans dealing with growth and development, keeping in mind that future generations will be effected for decades positively or negatively by decisions made today? Do we ever step back and check our motives for making the decisions we make? Do we have the best interest of all at heart, present and future?
In reference to The State paper article (The State, Wed., Oct. 23, 2013, Section A, ”Midlands”) Are we preparing ourselves for the folks projected to flood into our area over the next 30 years? Will they move here seeing a well planned, environmentally sound, green space friendly place to live knowing that they will also play a part in keeping it that way?
Is some sort of public transportation system being considered to help reduce traffic congestion and wear and tear on our roads in the Midlands and elsewhere? Has a privately owned public transportation system that reaches out over the Midlands been considered?
Are there other counties in S.C. or other states that have workable model communities that have been successful in achieving a balance with the environment, green space, wildlife habitat and development?
What are some other alternatives that could be pursued in order to help balance development, green space and protect the environment? Some are:
Encouraging those with acreage to contact their prospective counties and ask for information on conservation easements. Some of the great benefits of these easements are:
Based on the appraised value of your conservation easement property, you will have a tax credit of 30% of your adjusted gross income that can be used over a five year period. Hopefully this law will be changed back to the 2013 law of 50% of adjusted gross income that can be used over a fifteen year period. You would still own the property established as a conservation easement. You can sell the property easement at any time, though it is a perpetual easement. You can deed the property in the easement to your family.
When the contract between the property owner and the county is written, you can designate limited home sites on the conservation easement for future use. For greater details contact your county office.
Counties should create, promote and educate the public on conservation easement programs and provide attractive incentives such as continuing tax credits and reduced property tax rates on the property protected. There are those who would participate if they were encouraged to do so but first they need to know they exist. I was in a discussion with a local politician recently about having a more balanced approach with development. The reply was “you can’t tell people what to do with their land”. That’s true but you can encourage them to set aside some of their property as a conservation easement or recommend other options they can pursue in conservation efforts.
If there are similar minded people, I say similar minded because even in conservation efforts there are different views, opinions, reasons, etc. that need to be expressed, compromises must be worked out, vision used and goals set in order to reach workable solutions. These folks ought to unite and form a coalition that can meet regularly to solidify their stance, and meet with county councils, builders/developers, political leaders and others who are interested. The leaders of this coalition should be well acquainted with county policies, county laws and ordinances, be good speakers, able to present to the proper person through the proper channels with the proper demeanor and attitude the ideas, suggestions and other helpful information in order to help find this balance this article has been talking about.
If you remember about 20 years ago a group called “We the People” was formed to call attention to the rising property taxes. People responded, got involved, let their voice be heard and as a result our property taxes began to stabilize.
Remember back in 1968 when Richard Nixon used the phrase “Silent Majority” which are those who have opinions on issues but never express them, maybe hoping someone else will. You’re probably right, someone else will but it could be the minority and not the majority, if you remain silent.
While we’re on the subject of environment, two articles in The State caught my eye.
Section A, Oct. 27, 2013 “Environmental Law Breakers Still at It”
There are accidental spills, spills because of ignorance of the law (usually poor excuses), deliberate spills and repeated deliberate spills. It seems to me there is a serious flaw in a system that allows repeat offenders to continue this irresponsible negligent disregard for the law and not suffer major consequences especially when it poses health risks to our families by creating environmental hazards!
Section A, Sept. 22, 2013 “USC Group Hopes to Sell Preserve:
This article states “1200 acres is prime coastal property”, “Home of endangered species, plant and wildlife”, “A Living Laboratory that is not duplicated anywhere else in the World”. This property situated in an area that is under intense developmental pressure, which is owned by a school that has millions flowing through its hands every year and no doubt has other means of raising needed funds. Why then would they sacrifice such an ecological gem for a fast buck? Once it is destroyed it’s gone forever! Again, where is the balance, where is the planning, where is the stewardship, where is the common sense? You can’t mass produce creation like the thousands of assembly line products we use today. What you see is what you’re going to get. They aren’t making anymore!
I’d like to quote these words by Teddy Roosevelt, “You should walk on creation using moccasins not cleats” and Ronald Reagan, “You should leave your camp site in better shape than you found it”. What legacy are we leaving behind?
Are my opinions and feelings on balancing development too extreme or radical, out of touch with reality, out of balance, impossible to accomplish, or too costly to accomplish? Should the true cost be measured in dollars and cents or in being good stewards of God’s creation so that future generations can witness the true value we place upon it?
I ask myself why bother writing this article exposing my heartfelt feeling on a touchy subject. I wanted to vent my frustrations, to take a stand; to do what I feel is the right thing to do and to hopefully motivate others not to be part of that silent majority.
Balance and stewardship, how important are they to you?