The Randomness of Compassion: An Interview with Romanita Hairston

imageYour work focuses on the real, daily needs of children right here in our own neighborhoods. But sometimes it seems easier to think about the needs outside of our borders, like focusing on the hunger faced by children in far-off countries. Why do you think that is?
The things happening in our neighborhoods are actually connected to us—and who wants to deal with that? “I don’t want to deal with me, but I’d be more than happy to deal with you.” Continue reading

When helping can hurt

image.jpegMany years ago, early in my nonprofit career, I was visiting with a church partner in Tacoma. I was there to consult with them on the afterschool program they wanted to start. We happened to start talking about their food bank and feeding programs. As the pastor and a few key leaders talked about these programs, I could sense their energy and compassion for the people they served. I could also tell that the church truly saw reaching out to the community as part of their mission. Continue reading

I am like God

image.pngOne of my favorite things to do with kids is ask them why they are thankful to God. They give the best answers, in my humble opinion. I remember a particular answer that has stuck with me for years, like an ebbing tide that rises and falls during particular periods of my life. On a sunny afternoon in December, which is rare in the Northwest, I was talking to a group of young people of varying ages. My daughter was one of them. The question: Why are you thankful to God? Continue reading

Why I want wrinkles

wrinklesIt is true that getting older doesn’t necessarily make you wiser. I must admit, though, that not becoming wiser as you age must take very active resistance to learning. In other words, it is more natural to gain wisdom than to not.  It would seem that you have to put blinders on the rear-view mirror of your life and silence the voice of your past to avoid gaining wisdom. Certainly, a healthy conversation could take place about my perspective. My musings on aging, though, are not my destination. They are simply the jumping off points.  Continue reading

What’s in a name?

MNII had the most unusual experience a summer or so ago at a camp where I met a young girl who told me she didn’t like her last name. Now, I’m not so naïve that I’ve never heard someone say such a thing. But until this point, I had never met someone who seemed to have such sorrow over their name. It was an internal sorrow, not connected to the way her name was perceived by others, but by a deep sense of being oppressed by her name. Continue reading

Why you shouldn’t celebrate MLK Jr. Day!

Every year, I read or listen to that speech. Each time, those words come alive in my heart. At some point in my life, they became my words, as though Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had read my mind. I realize I am in the company of generations of leaders who looked to a day when every child had the chance to live the dream. It was a dream forged out of a life spent in pursuit of it, and not just a day spent celebrating the value of the dream. Continue reading

Presidents, politics and poverty

As we fall headlong into another presidential election season, I find myself in a surprising calm that does not align at all with my passionate sense of what needs to change in our country to make it a better place for the most vulnerable children, youth, and adults living here.

I’ve tried to engage in some deep reflection to understand the exact cause of this disconnect between my engagement levels and my passion.  Continue reading