As a Rotarian and member of the Chamber of Commerce in Monticello, I saw so many good things happening in our community, and so many initiatives to address problems. We are so blessed to have so many people working to help those in need! So blessed!
Still, we have great problems. One in four seniors in Wright County goes to bed hungry. One in six kids, too. Those statistics are alarming – and sad. After serving in a couple of soup kitchens on some of my mission trips, I saw hunger first hand. The face of hunger is not what I expected at all. The people standing in need were the same as you and I – and their kids were the same as your kids and mine. I realized then that I had made assumptions about what it meant to be hungry – and I also realized I was wrong.
My friend started a program with the blessing of the Avon community. He offered a Community Meal once a week. It was free to whomever wanted to come, and it was interesting in the first months to see who came. It was even more interesting over the subsequent years to see who came. That Community Meal became a true celebration of community – with people there to serve cheerfully and people there to receive, with people who could give and people who needed what they offered, and with people desperate for healthy connections on all sides of the issue.
We need that in our community. We need to stand side-by-side with people in need and offer them a glimpse of something different. I think that’s the most difficult thing for people who are faced with need: they are often assaulted by hopelessness. Lack of hope is debilitating. It’s why addicts can’t break addiction, it’s why families fall apart, and it’s why the cycle of poverty and crime and despair is often chronic.
Community, fellowship, and faith are answers to hopelessness. There’s much more to the story; I’m simplifying a massive problem. But we can’t hurt anyone by entering into community and fellowship, and then sharing a story and message of great hope and love.
Kari Kounkel (Administrator)