Neighborhood Healers

This column has been prepared as part of a reading supplement for the Republican Party of Texas convention in Ft. Worth.

By Artemio Muniz and Steve Parkhurst

Across America, many of our neighborhoods are crumbling, in need of renewal and all hope of achieving the American Dream hangs by a thread.Rather than turning away and assuming someone else will pick up the pieces, there are individuals, who have been termed Neighborhood Healers, who work to pick up those pieces and they change lives and communities in the process.And in the spirit of self reliance and self determination that dominates our great party, these Healers work without the help of any government as they are trying to renew their communities or neighborhoods. This can be in the form of a ministry that heals the fallen, or a citizen who is fed up with the lack of attention paid to a worn down neighborhood and decides to act on his or her own, at their own expense. This can be the mentor who offers guidance to a pupil who needs that one person who cares enough to look eye to eye or soul to soul and make a difference.

Robert Putnam in his books Bowling Alone and Better Together, Robert Woodson in his book The Triumphs of Joseph and William Schambra in his speeches and writings, have all touched upon the root of the American character when people in communities work together to improve lives for those around them.

In late 2008, we started working as a group that would eventually morph into what is today the Federation of Hispanic Republicans. Our early focus as an organization was civic renewal; a re-engagement of individuals in their community. All inspired by the likes of Putnam, Woodson and Schambra.

We traveled from Houston to just south of San Antonio to the city of Von Ormy where we joined with Mayor Art Martinez de Vara in a citywide cleanup, led by Republicans. Over the next few months back in Houston, we continued this sort of work. We joined with other people to find projects that needed help. In one instance, a home needed to be painted and a neighborhood church was offering the paint and supplies, they just lacked the manpower. We teamed up with another local organization and while that house was being painted, the rest of us cleared the neighboring lot and cleaned up the yard of a vacant home.

The most interesting thing to see, was after the work was done. Days, weeks, months later, the people who did the work, those who gave up a Saturday to labor, they were still beaming with pride, satisfaction and most important of all, happiness.

Neighborhood Healers are at work across the state of Texas. Most don’t call themselves Healers, they just go about their work. Most only want attention to point out the problems they’re working hard to remedy. If you really think on it, we all know a Healer like this.

In April, Steve Parkhurst ventured out to San Antonio’s famed Outcry in the Barrio ministry. That visit was previously written about here. As was pointed out in the recap of that visit, Outcry, a faith-based organization, has an astonishingly high success rate in getting addicts off of their substance(s) of choice and back in productive lives, often right in their own communities helping others. No government, whether federal, state, county or city, can claim the kind of success rate that a ministry like Outcry can achieve. Mainly because a place like Outcry is steeped in results after an addict leaves, while governments worry about the numbers enrolled, the number cured or healed is less important.

Ministries like Outcry in the Barrio need help. And Outcry is just one of many.

This past March, we were part of a group across the state that sought to include in the party platform a resolution, whereby the Republican Party of Texas would support the creation and/or development of a Neighborhood Healers Initiative.

With this Initiative, we wanted to show support for, and encourage the recognition of such Neighborhood Healers, and we wanted to make sure Republicans across Texas (and the nation) are doing their part to assist these Healers who are putting our conservative principles into practice on a daily basis.

We felt that as part of this initiative the Republican Party of Texas should start finding, identifying, and recognizing these healers and assure that the Republican Party both locally and statewide is assisting as needed in this community renewal. Because when good people apply deeds, and not just words, to the crises in our neighborhoods, our neighborhoods are better and we all benefit.

And this isn’t about spending money. This is about growing our party; it’s about growing our cause. Raising awareness and encouraging people to look a little deeper into their communities won’t cost one cent.

We want to challenge all the delegates at the state Republican convention to get involved when you return home. Find an individual or organization locally that is putting principles into practice, and help them. Help however you can, with time, money, sweat equity, or even with a little social media promotion.

As Deuteronomy 15:11 tells us, “For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’”

So many Neighborhood Healers have opened wide their hands, they all could use an extra set of hands.

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Filed under jack kemp, paul ryan

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