The mission isn’t to bring people out of poverty

The mission isn’t to bring people out of poverty; the mission is help people live fuller lives where they are.”

This week’s Maximizer’s was led by LeRoy King, who leads the mission as Director of MC3 (Monroe Circle Community Center).  As described on their blog site, MC3 is a place where the people of the Monroe Circle community can come and get fed not only food but can get fed spiritually, physically, and mentally as well. We care for the whole person by building relationships and doing it all to glorify God.

LeRoy has been involved with MC3 for a long time as a volunteer. In fact, he’s been involved with MC3 for a good portion of his life. As LeRoy told his story, which starts with him growing up in the Monroe Circle area, he explains that he’s always gravitated to the marginalized. In fact, he gave his life to Christ at the age of 18 in this same neighborhood.

It’s been a long journey to get him where he is today, and the MC3 project has not been easy. In fact, there have been times where this effort has been unwelcomed. However, as time has unfolded, the impact of MC3 has begun to transform the community.

“There’s so much talk and debate about the poor and marginalized and their needs – but no one is asking them!”

One of the first and most important undertakings was to let the community know that this was a long-term investment in them – a survey to learn what they felt they needed. It was easy to assume things like access to healthcare, food, and jobs, but it needed to come from them. After a centrally-located building was offered for $1, the Monroe Circle Community Center took shape and has become a hub of connections for this formerly unconnected neighborhood in downtown South Bend.

 “Most of the people in Monroe Circle go a lot of places. They get a lot of assistance. They talk to a lot of people. But, they rarely receive a warm greeting. In most of their interactions, they are a number waiting for their turn in line.”

With the help of committed volunteers and a laser focus, Monroe Circle residents are starting to understand that they matter in society and to God. What’s more, there is now real community happening: neighbors going from closed off and untrusting to knowing each other by name, high school drop outs successfully completing GED certifications, a prison re-entry program helping men return to society with a chance to make something of themselves, parents empowered and resourced to help their children succeed in school.

They are doing lots of great work that is having an impact far beyond just outreach in a disadvantaged community.

Where could you plug in with a laser focus to make an impact? If you’re already engaging your community, share your story!

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