KEY QUESTION: Can we both expand the social safety net while working to eliminate the need for it?
One of my greatest privileges these days — and things I am most proud of — is serving with MACC Charities. I currently serve as President of the Board; I am also going to be teaching an upcoming “Cooking Matters” class there this Spring.
MACC gives emergency assistance during times of crisis to individuals and families in the Manchester and Bolton, Connecticut area. We help feed and clothe those in need, assure them a warm, safe place to sleep at night, and advocate on their behalf when they are faced with eviction, unpaid utility bills, unaffordable prescriptions, and other issues which affect their basic needs.
MACC is a faith-based organization that exists because of its 35 member churches who have committed to working together to meet the emergency needs of the under-resourced in our community — that is, to provide and expand the social safety net, motivated by our Christian committment to care for, love and serve the poor. We accomplish our mission through strategic partnerships with both public and private entities, as well as our member churches and individuals. In other words, we partner with the town and state, local businesses, other non-profits, etc.
Our focus is clearly on EMERGENCY SERVICES.
Here is the question (or questions) that I am wrestling with these days: while focused on emergency services (the social safety net) can we also focus on trying to keep people out of the safety net?
Or does this represent mission drift?
And from a Christian perspective, while we are obligated to care for the poor, do programs like job training, mental health services, addiction services, life coaching, mentoring, tutoring, etc — are these beyond what the church (via MACC) should be doing? Or is this exactly what we should be doing?
Most churches I know have some program for helping the poor and hungry, but rarely get involved in programs that help prevent hunger and poverty. Why is this? Is this right? Wise? Biblical?
I WOULD LOVE TO HEAR YOUR THOUGHTS?