Working in the nonprofit world and community outreach has afforded me the opportunity to be a better student in the school of life.

Human life is very precious and yet very complex. I have learned that people’s intentions are wonderful and that many want to do something to change the world.

People donate their money and sometimes their time thinking these are the solutions to the world’s ill. In theory, that would be an awesome solution. In reality, hands-on interaction with those in need is where we begin to heal our communities.

I was speaking to a colleague one day earlier this month, and he stated that he is a bit angered with a local philanthropist, because the philanthropist’s belief is that giving money toward community development is an answer to crime and poverty.

We all need it and work toward getting and keeping it. It has its place and much value in the goals I want to achieve for assisting underserved communities in the Pee Dee. But as powerful as money is, I also have compassion about the not-so-pleasant issues that are happening in the Pee Dee and beyond.

My compassion drives me to encourage those who are voiceless. Compassion leads to action and eventually empowerment. Those who lead the work in homeless shelters cans attest to the duties of maintenance and management. It’s all encompassing, yet many people give their time and effort to ensure that people can have a safe place to be when they do not have their own personal living spaces.

Downtown Florence is developing well and quickly. When I moved to Florence in 2012, I didn’t realize the plans being created to mobilize an area that seemed desolate for many years. Now it is beginning to thrive. I have frequented many of the businesses there, and I am impressed. But while I might have an opportunity to have fun at my favorite spot, Jazz on Dargan, there are times when I notice that there are some people on and near Dargan Street who don’t have the opportunity to enjoy the new Florence, because they have been affected by old physical, social, emotional and economic issues that led to their current state.

So when I state the “cause is the community,” I had to realize that I must address and act on helping the many people who may never have be able to enter the doors of the businesses of downtown or any enjoy the newness of Florence, because they are more focused on how can I get just a scrap of the food that I might have thrown away.

I am in no way criticizing development. It is a system that has been in play long before any of us were conceived.

Ignoring the ills of our community don’t make them less ill. It just makes the sicknesses less visible. But beneath the surface is a disease that will eventually kill, because it has been ignored and purposely left unidentified. In short, community growth can and will be stifled if we do not shift our attention to the unspoken issues in our area.

Homelessness, racism, classism, domestic violence, lack of mental health care and unemployment are all issues that at some point need to be addressed. And as I say that many people might say, “Yes, our local politicians need to say or do something,” I say, “No, ma’am” and “No, sir” to us pushing on the elected officials that which we should be addressing in our homes and in our faith-based spaces.

Can anyone honestly say that they have had meaningful dialogues about any of the issues I mentioned within the past week? And if you did, was it to rally others to attempt to eradicate them?

As corny as this saying is, it does have a ring of truth to it: “For every hand that points one finger at someone else, remember that on the same hand the remaining fingers are pointing back at you.”

The cause in the community can be helped if you take action.

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Jennifer Guiles Robinson is a Florence resident who enjoys being active in her community. She is the executive director of Empowered to Heal, a 501(c)(3) that provides recovery services and support for adult survivors of trauma. She is a wife and mother of three. She is a graduate of Spelman College and Liberty University.

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