‘Greater Macon Sleepout’
Sleeping out for the homeless
“Did you sleep well last night?”
How often have you started your day by answering that question? Didn’t it feel good to answer “yes”?
For many homeless men and women, the answer to that question is often “no.” It’s hard to have a good night’s rest when you are sleeping outside, under a bridge or in an abandoned building vulnerable to the weather and worried about safety.
Since opening in 2012, Daybreak, Depaul USA’s day/resource center at 174 Walnut Street, has been a place where Macon’s homeless men and women can rest and recover. Every weekday, up to 130 people come to Daybreak to eat breakfast, wash clothes, take a shower, access health care, meet a case worker and, yes, rest. Every year, Daybreak helps scores of men and women find housing and access employment.
Daybreak’s signature fundraiser, the “Greater Macon Sleepout,” is February 23. The concept behind the sleepout is simple. Individuals and organizations pay for the “privilege” of sleeping outside near Daybreak. Giving up the comfort of your bed for one night is an act of solidarity with our homeless neighbors. It does not replicate what it means to be homeless but it does provide an insight into what it is like to make the streets your bed.
Please consider participating in the sleepout. You can learn more and register at www.Maconsleepout.com. We cannot guarantee you a good night’s rest but we promise it will be a night you’ll remember for a long time.
Charles W. Levesque,
President & Executive Director,
Sister Katie Norris, DC
Some of the regulars keep on repeating the talking point that Republicans are trying to get rid of the Unaffordable Care Act without having a replacement. There are proposals out there, but hey, just go on repeating fake news instead. That’s why this is called the opinions section. I say treat the replacement just like Obamacare. It will have to be passed before you can find out what’s in it.
Fix the community
I want to thank and applaud Mercer University’s Center for Collaborative Journalism, The Telegraph and Georgia Public Broadcasting for their efforts to improve the Bibb County public schools. I went to the public forum held Jan. 24 and listened to a number of concerned citizens, all of whom want better public schools. As everyone knows, public schools are vital to the success or failure of a community. As go the schools, so goes the community. Good, functioning schools are a force-multiplier in that they attract businesses, they attract families seeking those good schools, and they can add value to residential property. Unfortunately, many of the schools in Macon-Bibb County are failing. The question is, why?
My contention is that these forums are incorrectly focused. Upon entering, I was given a sheet of paper with three questions, the most prominent being; “How important is it to you that your children attend a racially-diverse school?” Most people do not care about the color of the other children in school with their kids; black, white, or brown, the color does not matter. We want our children to go to good schools regardless of the ethnicity of the other children.
A child can receive a good education in the Bibb County school system. Evidence of this is that every year several graduating seniors receive scholarships to Ivy League schools and other prominent universities. Problem is that those kids are the exception, not the norm. I would contend that the reason the Bibb County schools are under-performing is that there is a lack of parental involvement.
Go to a school event in any of the surrounding counties and that event is well attended by parents and friends. Then go to a similar event at a Bibb County school and compare the parental attendance. Peach County and Mary Persons high schools are good examples; those schools get over 1,000 people attending any away football game. In contrast, it takes four home games to get a thousand people to a Bibb County high school football game, let alone to an away game.
This lack of parental involvement is a primary reason why those who can afford to send their children to a private school do so; or like my wife and me, they move to another school district. Simply put, a family has only a limited number of years to insure their children get a good secondary education.
Parents cannot afford to wait years hoping their local public school gets better at the expense of their child’s education. Parents want their children to attend school with other children whose family puts the same emphasis on education as do they. In that way, there becomes a community wide “peer” pressure to achieve good grades. When the expectation is there, the child is much more likely to meet those expectations. And those expectations start with involved parents. Why is parental involvement lacking in the Bibb schools?
One of the attendees at the forum stated that in Bibb children (meaning teenage girls) are having babies out of wedlock and those babies end up being raised by a single mothers. She went on to say that the cycle of single mother families becomes a generational norm and is very difficult to break.
As we know, Macon-Bibb County has a huge problem with broken families. Every study shows that children do multiple times better when raised in a two-parent household than in a single-parent household. They get better grades, are less likely to drop out of school, and are less likely to do drugs or commit crimes. There is little doubt that the large numbers of children from broken homes is a major reason, if not the primary reason, for the under-performing schools in the county.
I contend that the under-performing schools in Macon-Bibb are a symptom of a broken community and not the cause. Other associated symptoms would include crime, out of wedlock births, school dropouts, drug abuse, litter/graffiti, and gang activity. So, I would like to see several of these forums refocused to try to determine the reasons why Macon-Bibb is broken.
The issues and problems that Macon-Bibb faces have been here for decades and will not be quickly remedied. However, with a determined community and proper leadership the problems can be identified and then fixed. Once that happens, the schools will fix themselves.