By Joe Micon, LUM executive director
Have you heard the one about the busload filled with homeless families from Chicago that pulled up in front of LUM because our social services are so great???
While you may not have heard that exact story, I have no doubt you have heard some variation of it, offered as an (untrue) explanation for why so many children and families from Chicago, Lake County, Indiana and Indianapolis have moved to our community in recent years.
As someone who has gotten to know many of our new neighbors, here’s what they tell me when I ask why they have come to Lafayette…
- There are jobs to be had in Greater Lafayette
- Our community has safe streets
- Our public schools do a great job of teaching children
Just take a look the next time you use a fast food drive-up window. Make sure to notice who is filling our hospital housekeeping, home health care or Purdue food service jobs. These are not the “takers” who come to our community in search of social services. They are women and men in search of a promise as enduring as America itself – in search of a place where they can work, learn and grow to the utmost of their God-given potential. And it is right here in Lafayette where they have chosen to try to fulfill that promise. Compared to where they have come from, our community is a shining beacon on a hill – a promised land, void of gun violence, filled with opportunity for their children.
I think the “taker” mentality grows from a place of fear and shouldn’t be nurtured. Instead, now is the time for our community’s wonderful churches to reach out in fellowship and support of our new neighbors. Now is certainly the time to adequately resource our public schools and teachers to help them meet the challenges facing their new students. It’s time for employers to make sure that hard work is rewarded with fair pay and good benefits.
More than anything, it is time for us to confront the false stereotypes and more fully understand what it is that has brought so many new neighbors to our community. That’s what I think – I’d love to hear from you! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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