I had a dream my life would be
So different from this hell I'm living
So different now from what it seemed
Now life has killed
The dream I dreamed.
Fantine in Les Misérables
A while back, I was in court to support one of our participants. During the day a lady came before the judge, charged with solicitation of prostitution. She had a court appointed attorney representing her. She had agreed to plead guilty to the charge, and the court accepted her plea. During the hearing the attorney did let the judge know that the defendant was homeless, and was likely committing the offense to support a drug habit. She was sentenced to pay $460 in attorney fees and court costs, to be assessed by TASC (additional costs) and so on….. Pretty standard requirements, and certainly common within the guidelines that I have heard. In other words…….
Nothing unusual here.
And yet that is exactly what troubled me. That this scenario can be just another day in the life of Alamance County, with literally dozens of these types of stories being unfolded on any given day.
Think about it. The lady in this particular story now owes $600 - $700 as a consequence of her decisions. She is homeless, and without work to earn the money to pay…. Or is she. The sad part is that we must know how she can earn the money to pay…. The same way that got her in trouble to start with, and in a manner that continues to degrade her as a person. This is when we might be able to look at her face to face and see hopelessness staring back. I have seen this look and it is haunting. We should be sure that this was not the dream she had…. Nor the dream a mother had.
Hopelessness is not cured with a job, a meal, or shelter. Hopelessness is overcome by providing hope….. hope that there is a future, and a good one at that. Hope is provided when we demonstrate that we can love not only the “least of these, our brothers and sisters” but love them even when they appear to be unlovable. Hope is provided when we are willing to love.
In one of the villages, Jesus met a man with an advanced case of leprosy. When the man saw Jesus, he bowed with his face to the ground, begging to be healed. “Lord,” he said, “if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.” Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” And instantly the leprosy disappeared. Luke 5:12-13 (NLT)
Sustainable Alamance was founded to stand with those that had no one to stand with them, to encourage and to love them, even if they initially seem unlovable. Sustainable Alamance continues to work to restore everyone to a productive place in our community by providing opportunity, seeing the assets each person has and the value they bring…. To fulfill the dreams I am sure they once had.
Sustainable Alamance IS a provider of HOPE