Family Resource Center would be missed

Sunday, January 24, 2010

"But I'll bet you won't forget me when I go."

The aforementioned is a lyric from "Fairy Tale," an old Elvis Presley song. The idea is that we don't appreciate what we have until it's no longer a part of our lives.

For all the well-deserved clucking after Mark McGwire's long-delayed admission of steroid use, one thing cannot be denied: Many people missed him. Some waited more than three hours last week to see the ex-Cardinals slugger at his first public event since his congressional testimony in 2005.

McGwire was the only person who could get my spouse to the TV to watch a Cardinals game. If he came to the plate, my wife came running, hoping to see what we all wanted to see -- a monstrous home run.

Elvis is gone, McGwire will never hit another competitive round-tripper and the Cape Area Family Resource Center may well be right behind those two men.

This splendid agency in south Cape Girardeau, an oasis for children in poverty, may go out of business as early as June. The immediate problem is that funding from the state of Missouri is disappearing. State grants that largely have kept resource center afloat cannot be renewed.

I heard a radio evangelist say once that if we allowed ourselves to care about every worthy need that came into our fields of vision, our hearts would burst. We could not stand the strain.

There is so much need out there -- the catastrophe in Haiti is but one example. We must prioritize.

Where we decide to lodge our charitable gifts does say something about what we value.

In the interests of full disclosure, I'm not on the resource center board, but I have attended events there and my congregation has been helpful financially and with work teams.

Situated in an old church along South Sprigg Street, the center has the only four-day-per-week after-school program for underprivileged (and mainly latchkey) children in that part of town.

Positive role models encourage children to delay the onset on risky behaviors.

The six-week sessions of camp each summer helps eliminate the "slide" that can occur when school is out. It's the only place of its kind in south Cape open to all comers.

The center needs to make its case to the community. Of late, they're trying hard to do so. The agency needs to be upfront about presenting a sustainable business plan to anyone who asks.

The center is not church-based, is not school-based and is not government-based. It's a 10-year-old agency doing fine work -- God's work. With the drying up of state support, extinction is a real possibility.

Is there any room in your heart to help meet one more need -- and this one right down the street?

It will take $50,000 to stave off a closing. You can call the center at 334-8170 to help.

A relatively small group of people can make the difference between an ongoing and vital presence in South Cape and a shuttered, dark building. If the resource center disappears, its absence will be felt in the long term.

We will miss it if it goes.

Jeff Long is pastor of Centenary United Methodist Church in Cape Girardeau. Married with two daughters, he is of Scots and Swedish descent, loves movies and is a lifelong fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

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