He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him
that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise. (KJV)
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (KJV)
The Erase Poverty Project
The Erase Poverty Project is the flagship project of Ministry of Aservant designed to reduce the level of impoverished persons that desire to become both an asset to their community and a pillar of strength to their families. The project focuses on building and instilling social, economic, educational and health related awareness to the community with a strong emphasis on growing a healthy Christian spiritual relationship with God. By systematically removing, replacing and returning certain aspects of living while simultaneously weaning the participant off of dependence on the provisions of the program, it is believed that we can be successful in helping rehabilitate disadvantaged individuals who aspire for a better quality of life. We hope to foster an attitude that will create assets to our communities and economy. As a young non-profit organization we have high hopes and have planned a budget that should be able to serve 100 participants per location at full operational capacity. Our mission is simple; strengthen our societies at the local, state, national then international levels by growing changed, upstanding, hardworking, Christian individuals ready to become the building blocks of a brave new world.
The need for the Erase Poverty Project in Waco, TX is dire. According to 2010 census data recovered by the U.S. Census Bureau, the average household is 2.59 people (around 3 persons) and the poverty-line for 3 person households is right around a $17,500 - $18,000 per year income. Considering this data and coupling it with financial data from the most current release of Waco's metropolitan statistical area (MSA), there may be anywhere from 19% - 47% of the city (42,687 – 105,594 people) that may be living at or below the poverty line (see chart below). Even in the best of lights this is nearly twice the 2010 impoverished population data of 12.4%.
Furthermore, specialized education in the Waco area is failing miserably. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 19.82% of the Waco MSA population hasn't even graduated high school. That’s 4.98% higher than the national levels and equates to roughly 44,529 Waco citizens ill-equipped to serve and add to their own communities. What’s worse, a large number of these people do not have a support system or key motivator to encourage and enable them to better themselves.
When I came to Waco, I was six. My mother and father had split for the second time and it seemed like divorce was imminent. My mother, struggling to cope with the mental, economical, and physical stress with raising two children from her mother’s aging two bedroom home (which was also home to her brother at the time), did the best she could to raise us alone, but was eventually forced to seek government aid to relieve the burdens she tried to carry alone. We qualified for every program available, but my mother, with adequate foresight and intelligence took as little as she possibly could. Later, when I asked her why she did this she told me a story of a starving man and a fisherman. She said there was a starving man by the shore with no food to eat or way to fish because he didn't know how. One day, a kind-hearted fisherman from the nearby village started giving him a fish from his day’s catch. This went on for some time, until a traveler came by and saw the beggar on the shore waiting patiently for his friend to bring his meal for the day. The traveler asked the poor man, “Why are you sitting here so skinny and gaunt? Don’t you know you sit on the shores of the most fruitful of bays?” The beggar replied, “Good sir, I sit here day in and day out and watch empty ships return loaded down with bountiful catches. I believe no one knows how fruitful those waters are better than I. But in all the treasures the fishermen bring in, there is but one who was willing to share a little bit with me that I may not die. Seeing as I don’t know how to fish, I owe my life to him, for the very day he came along I had made up in my mind to throw myself in the sea and end my life. He has saved me and every day I wait for him to come and feed me, but he became sick a couple days ago and I’ve prayed that another individual would pity me enough to share his wealth with me until my friend returns. That individual would happen to be you, would it?” The traveler replied, “Good sir, I do pity you, but I will not give you even one fish from that water, but I will show you how to get it yourself.” With that, the traveler showed the beggar how to make netting, line, hooks, and gather bait. It was well into the night when the beggar finally caught his first fish and the traveler was well weary. “Stranger!” the beggar said with elation. “Look! Look! I have caught a fish on my own!” But as hard as the beggar looked, he could not find the man who had helped him leave his seat on the sandy shore. The next day, the fisherman returned to the shore early in the morning to prep his boat and string his lines only to find the beggar prepping his own equipment for a catch. The fisherman said, “Well, where did you get all of this?” and the beggar replied, “A strange Man came and showed me the way, may I come fish with you? I won’t get in the way and anything I catch I will split right down the middle with you. From that day forward, the beggar and the fisherman worked together and were so successful as a two man team that they were able to buy more boats, hire more hands and became the dominant fishing company in the bay. A beggar that was given a little time and effort in the right way turned an ordinary fisherman into the most dominant force in the area. Yet if he were never to have learned, he would have remained a beggar and the fisherman, a fisherman.
My mother was a college drop out when we first arrived in Waco, but because she had the right support systems at home, church and school, she graduated from MCC in 1997 with an Associate’s of Science in X-Ray Technology and landed a $30,000 a year job. Instead of going from grandma’s house to government projects, we went to a brand new $90,000 home built from the ground up. So maybe the U.S. doesn’t need a fisherman mentality (the general welfare system as it currently is), but maybe needs the support of grandma’s crowded little home to drive her to greatness instead of complacency (Erase Poverty Project).
The people targeted and expected to benefit the most from this project would be in similar situations as my mother was, in distress and unable to better themselves without significant help. The overcrowding of all of Waco’s three government housing projects further exacerbated by the shutting down of the low-income housing Parkside Villages due to uncontrollable high crime is a resounding bell that signals the need for immediate action to be taken. There have been so many applicants for Section 8 public housing in the city that the waiting list has been closed until further notice. To ward off redundancy of highlighting the plight the city is in, it stands to be said that the harvest is ripe of people that are burdening our economy and these burdens could be transformed into blessings if only the energy, resources, funding and time where directed towards enhancement of life instead of pandering simple sustainment.
Poverty is not a condition; it is a mentality and lifestyle that is bred by one’s life choices and ideologies that, together, create his or her world paradigm. What we may see manifest in the physical is a poor child with little food to eat and dirty hair, what caused it is the parent’s lack of knowledge on how to plan and budget funds properly AND his or her ideology that this manifestation is typical and acceptable. Without a belief that one can achieve more, one will not achieve at all (For as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he – Proverbs 23:7 KJV). If the Erase Poverty Plan does not get implemented, distressed people would be at risk to continue to fall into the downward spiral of crime, poverty, and drugs that has already made an appearance.
These projects in their entirety are designed to increasingly strengthen society and decrease poverty to a drastically reduced if not virtually non-existent level by systematically removing, replacing and returning certain aspects of living while simultaneously weaning the participant off of dependence on the provisions of the programs.
• Have two of the four pilot participants in stage 3 and doing outreach for the program by the end of year 1
• Aid 1,000+ people with combined efforts of the Harvest Field and the Erase Poverty Project by the end of year 1
• Have an established database of interested applied participants by the end of year 1
• Have all four pilot participants complete the program and land a job in their respective fields of training by the end of year 2
• Reduce the local level of poverty by 1% by the end of year 5
• Reduce the local unemployment rate by 1% by the end of year 5
• Have pilot programs in 3 other cities by the end of year 7
Currently, we plan to pre- and post-test the participants of the program in order to ascertain how great of a paradigm shift the program has allowed to happen. This information is vitally important to us as even if we can get the participant to change life habits for a time it would count for nothing if the paradigm that bred poverty remained in place. Ongoing evaluations will be done at key points in order to generate a working database as to what techniques work the best and in which situations, where certain breakthroughs tend to occur and create a timeline of breakthroughs by which we can gauge the alacrity by which future participants make strides towards their success.
We also plan to gather information from our staff and teaching/mentoring body as well as the surrounding communities in order to further improve the efficiency of the program in respects to its purpose.
Finally, by scheduling regular evaluation periods by an outside panel of professional evaluators, we can assure that we are receiving accurate information with which to cross-reference our own findings and propel the project into greater effectiveness.
Ministry of Aservant has created a list of 50+ grant makers to approach with the petition to contribute to the realization of our organizations goals. There are several different aspects designed to sustain the program outside of your foundations contributions to the project. Firstly, we would never ask for financial contributions from another organization without contributing to the success of the project ourselves. 40% of the net profit from album sales and 30% of the net profit from all merchandise sales of Aservant go towards sustaining the organization. Furthermore, there are a number of other avenues we explore to assure this organization stays afloat, active and effective including government grants (we currently qualify to receive grants from the local, state and federal government, corporate sponsorships (one event in particular is an annual benefit concert designed to help fund both Ministry of Aservant and Bethel’s Place, one of our corporate partners), major-gift programs (because of the market Aservant works in, there is a high probability to come into contact with a number of potential donors able to single-handedly make a large contribution), client funding (each client will be responsible for up to 75% of his or her own bills associated with the program and will be petitioned to make a donation to the foundation upon graduation from the program), and individual donations (we allow any willing individual to contribute via mail, internet or in person at any of our locations). At the beginning of fiscal year two, the organization will hire a fundraising consultant to ensure that the strategy for sustaining the funds needed to fuel the organization is still viable and modify it as needed to expand our donor base, maximize all avenues to meet the financial needs of the organization.