Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Open Table

"Our used clothes show up but we never do." - Jon Katov

Over these past months, I've grown desperate to find solutions out of poverty that actually work. I'm happy to distribute band-aids to my friends, but they need something more, something lasting.

Last night we went to a meeting that has me feeling like God's power is as big as He says it is.

I sat in the meeting thinking about all I've read about poverty, all I learned from my time working with him, but I never truly cared about it until I had real-life friends choked by its grip.

This? Rings true. It's all maddening and convoluted. How do we help? How should we help? Because at the end of the day, there they still are, often with small kids in tow. They have Pop Tarts and cable TV, but they can't get a job. There are huge gaps between what they have and what they need. They need a future. They need hope. Affirmation.

I can't tell you how many times I've driven home in near-despair, feeling certain that all of this is a waste of time. I couldn't walk away. Didn't want to. I just wanted a solution.

I may have found it in The Open Table and its founder, Jon Katov.
"The poor need our intellectual and social capital. Not our used blue jeans and giant cans of spaghettios." - Jon Katov
I mean, the guy's quirky. A little loose-cannonish. I love that. He started talking and I started frantically digging around in my bag for a scrap of paper to scrawl out his brilliance.

The Open Table model surrounds a person living in poverty with 10-12 people like you and me, people who will walk with him or her for an entire year, sharing the load, guiding her toward actual help, like a job and a budget, personal responsibility, a safe place to live.

I'm way, way intrigued.

But beyond that, tell me, why do we hesitate to go to the poor? Are we afraid that we'll be held responsible? After all, it can't be our burden if we don't even know who they are.

Man, if only that were true. So since it's already on us, we might as well get to know them, fall in love with them, see for ourselves how funny and bright they are.

They are the reward.