by Jason Janz

After working in the city for past six years, people will often ask me a question about the homeless wondering if they should help someone flying a sign on the sidewalk. They don’t know if they are helping or hurting

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if they give the guy money. This question doesn’t just stop at the sidewalk. It is at the root of a lot of the issues we run into in the city (and increasingly in the suburbs as poverty suburbanizes). It happens almost daily in this work – a perplexing question comes up and there seem to be no easy solutions. We all want the right answer! A lot of times there is a tug-of-war between our empathy and our logic, our heart and our head.

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jordanLast night was a rough night. I was at home and a friend called and asked if she could come over. I was excited to see her and ran outside when her mom’s car pulled up. But something went down that still upsets me. Her and six other girls piled out and the biggest one – she looked like a 10th grader – started punching me. I fell to the ground and she started kicking me. The next thing I knew I was in an ambulance on the way to the hospital. I’m glad that everything checked out ok. They gave me a cold pack to help keep the swelling down on the back of my head. They called my grandma to come get me.

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lilli

Lilli was born into a loving family in Mexico. Her dad was a bank guard and her mom stayed at home and took care of her and her younger sister.  One day, everything changed as her dad was approached by the cartel and given a choice – either work for us and we pay you or turn us down and we kill you and your family.  He knew he couldn’t stay and forever be in prison to the drug lords.  So, he packed up his family and chose to do what he felt would be in their best interests – flee to America.

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Five years ago, my family moved 18 miles from the burbs to the city. Not too far a drive, but a very long way from home for this former country boy. Hearing gunshots was a new experience. Homicides in the nreyseaneighborhood were new. Five years later, it’s not new anymore, but it’s something you never get used to. But I still have felt a bit removed as I’ve never known any of the victims. That changed Friday night when Reysean was shot and killed in a gang shooting. Thanks to the work of Willie Mosley, a former convict turned community leader in our prison after-care program, Reysean was part of our lives. We went fishing together, a Rockies game, talent shows, and he even sang at church! He played basketball with my son. We’ll miss you, friend. Word has it there’s a river up there that flows right from the throne of God and down the middle of the street. I’m sure there’s bigger fish there than what we tried to catch. Cast away and we’ll see you soon enough!