This morning was the annual major fundraiser for the Good Shepherd Center in Sioux Falls (http://www.goodshepherdsiouxfalls.org), a non-profit, ecumenical ministry that provides daytime shelter and services for people who are homeless, poor or newly arrived in our community.
Matt Gasson, Executive Director of Feeding South Dakota (http://www.feedingsouthdakota.org) gave some rather sobering statistics about the increasing number of South Dakotans who are experiencing food insecurity (concern if and when they might have their next meal).
Bishop Paul Swain gave a good “homily” on the history of the Good Shepherd Center and a great prayer petitioning God to give us the graces to be open to helping these children of God and give those who are suffering the graces to bear their suffering with courage.
Governor Dennis Daugaard shared a story of one of his former charges as CEO of Children’s Home Society who told what he wanted to be when he grew up was to be happy. What a simple and profound life goal.
The Governor then talked about the need for finding the right balance with regard to government assistance to the less fortunate such they ultimately become self-sufficient and not dependent. But he added assistance direct from neighbors needs not fear crossing the line because direct person-to-person contact will always build dignity and self-respect for both the giver and the receiver. What a simple and profound truism.
And, finally the Governor said EVERYONE we meet is struggling with a burden of some sort and told this story from Stephen Covey: “he was traveling in a subway, a man gets in with his two sons, the sons are running all over the place bothering the people, this continues, so he finally gets irritated enough to ask the father why he doesn’t do something to control his kids. The father replies, “We just got back from the hospital where their mother died. I don’t know how to handle it and I guess they don’t either.” The Governor asked us to try to see others not through our eyes and experiences but to judge slowly so we can see all we meet through their eyes.
Last year the Good Shepherd Center had nearly 34,000 guest visit and a record number of first time visitors. Feeding South Dakota also experienced record number of first time beneficiaries. When you are paying your bills, between writing your checks for your light bill and your grocery bill, I urge you to find some money for those who would love to be able to pay their own light bill and grocery bill. As the Governor said, the little kid who desires happiness might need YOU today.