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Thomas Segel is responsible for this content, which is not edited by the Wilson County News or wilsoncountynews.com.

January 10, 2011 | 1,565 views | Post a comment

Harlingen, Texas, January 7, 2011: America has said goodbye to the year 2010. It was not a passing of time that we looked at in nostalgia, but instead it was a year of disruptive political positioning and extreme hardship for many Americans. We not only endured the continuation of fighting on two war fronts, but also suffered continued loss of jobs by the millions and the worst economy in decades.

How bad were things in America? It is impossible to tell from looking at antidotal evidence, but such reports will give people a good idea of how black the clouds have been across the country. Perhaps some examples from a small city in Texas will help us to see how people have been handling some of the difficulties of our country.

Texas is in far better shape than most of our fifty states. This, however, does not mean things are coming up roses in Lone Star country. Take a look at just one volunteer agency in Harlingen, a city of about 65,000 residents.

During 2010 Loaves and Fishes of the Rio Grande Valley provided 133,597 meals to the hungry. A total of 6, 837 services were provided by the organization’s job shop. There were 6, 894 bed nights provided to the homeless. In addition 3,808 family clients were assisted with food bags, utility payments, rent payments and prescription drugs by the Vera Nauman Family Emergency Assistance programs. This was all done with gifts of money and more than 22,000 donated volunteer hours of service by people within the community.

Within the same city of Harlingen a partnership program between the city and the Cameron County Juvenile Justice System has created a comprehensive range of community programs that are aimed at providing opportunities for success to the at-risk youth and young adults of the county.

Called “The Bridge”, this opportunity driven multi-service organization is only three years old and is now attempting to combine its programs at a single location, the former Harlingen Police Station. “The Bridge” volunteers are currently seeking donations totaling $250,000 to renovate that facility.

“The Bridge” programs include GED training, vocational training, general counseling, job readiness preparedness, job training a job placement program, a home construction program, Criminon and Narconon Life Skills and spiritual counseling. Many of these are volunteer efforts.

Does this program work? The figures don’t explain everything, but they provide a good view of what is taking place. In 2008 there were 2,632 juvenile referrals to the various programs being offered. There were 718 felonies committed by young people between the ages of 10 and16 years of age. A total of 692 young people tested positive for drug use and 671 youth were placed on probation. The success rate in correcting these behaviors during that year was 26%.

Moving to 2010 there were 1910 juvenile referrals. There were 475 felonies committed by the young offenders. 632 young people tested positive for drug use. There were 351 young offenders placed on probation. The success rate for “The Bridge” grew to 53%. Through all of this volunteers, civic groups, schools and local government led the way in reducing the growth of criminality in the county.

This is only two small examples of citizen involvement and how people helping people sometimes outshines all of the governmental programs and the political pandering that has led to our country crashing harder than at any other time since the great depression. If this nation is going to climb back into a positive future, we must stop placing all of our hopes and dreams on a national governmental nanny and instead start reaching out helping hands to our own neighbors. People helping people are a winner every time.

Semper Fidelis
 
« Previous Blog Entry (January 9, 2011)
 


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