Lewisville's Social Services: Our community, Our Choice.

Date 2013/2/4 1:30:00 | Topic: Blogs and Columns

Guest Column by TJ. Gilmore,
Lewisville City Councilman

"The Government is us; we are the government, you and I" - Theodore Roosevelt, Republican.

This morning, First United Methodist, my church, let everyone cut out of service fifteen minutes early to purchase items for the Christian Community Action (CCA) pantry. The church community filled a CCA van, floor to ceiling, with food and cleaning supplies. As a community we cooperated to help CCA achieve their mission.

During service, the example of a grandmother having to unexpectedly raise four grandchildren and how CCA was helping her make sure they are raised to be productive members of society was shared. Quite often, situations arise that people can't plan for. That's when the community steps up.

For many years, the City of Lewisville's council has approved somewhere around $150,000 a year. Some years less; some, like this past year's $170,000, more. I'm proud that the community has repeatedly said yes to funding social service agencies to help our most needy residents.

Having served on the Community Development Block Grant committee for several years, I know these organizations go through rigorous checks to ensure that funds are spent appropriately and not wasted. Many times the city funds capital expenses like new conference and education space. We also fund services like psychological and physical evaluations of abused children, wellness checks at PediPlace, and day care for disabled adults so residents can get a couple hours for running errands. These agencies do a tremendous amount with these dollars.
I write this because my colleague, Councilman John Gorena chooses to politicize these groups. He has repeatedly implied that CCA is a private business regardless of their organizational structure. The same for Day Stay for Adults. In fact, the only social service agencies he seems to approve of are the ones associated with law enforcement, or in his words "Without these organizations, each city would have to hire full time employees and create departments to provide these services".

Members of First United Methodist Church load donations for Christian Community Action (Submitted Photo)

I believe part of why citizens elect a council is to provide a quality of life. Whether that means helping our poorest residents meet building codes instead of taking their homes and letting the property rot and pull down property values, or providing senior care so residents who are taking care of kids and parents can get a couple of spare hours, or even helping provide limited health screening so our hospital ER isn’t overrun with poor families experiencing health crises, we take a small sum and allow organizations like PediPlace, Day Stay for Adults, and many others leverage those dollars for the benefit of the community.

What's interesting is Gorena’s double standard. When CCA requested a grant for renovating their training and family assistance spaces recently with the requirement that CCA provide a funding match, Gorena opposed it. He said nothing about a grant for office space at the Children's Advocacy Center for Denton County a few years back. As long as the group has some law enforcement component, he seems to take no issue, even if they provide complimentary services.

In fact, the organizations he lauds, frequently work closely with organizations like Day Stay for Adults, CCA, PediPlace and others to provide services for the families caught up in child abuse, or are victims of crimes. These agencies would try to provide services for families if the other agencies didn't exist.

We have a web of social services that residents can access when they need help. Each of these groups serve a vital function and specialize to make sure dollars are spent efficiently.

If you've donated to these organizations personally, had to avail yourself of their resources, or serve on a board for any of these groups- read up. Know that you're mis-represented by an elected official, and say something. For those of you serving one of the organizations he approves of, stand up for your colleagues. Or prepare to increase your workload with less funding as the threads of our community get snipped, one by one.

Of course the extension of Councilman Gorena's argument would be, go ahead and fund these groups strictly through donations and keep 'government' out.

In other words, you and I aren't the government. I don't know about you, but I'm siding with Teddy Roosevelt on this one.

Related Posts:
- "Nonprofit or not, all businesses are for profit" - John Gorena and the CDBG

This article comes from The Lewisville Texan Journal

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