One Neighborhood At A Time
Last Thursday the citizens of Memphis elected a young energetic mayor named Paul Young. His acceptance to lead in our city’s recovery, redemption, and restoration was motivating and inspiring, and he challenged us constituents without notes.
“I want to make sure that together we go through a transformation, a transformation that’s going to take us from hopelessness to hopeful; from poverty to prosperity, from hurt to healing, from stalled to thriving, and from good to truly great,” he said.
There is much ahead for the transformation of our city, and many will be enlisted to join the many already engaged. Orange Mound is only one of over 100 neighborhoods in Memphis. My Cup of Tea is among several other organizations here and committed to do our part. We join with our common love for our community and a desire to see it flourish. Mayor Young’s eloquent words, in a rhythmic cadence, are similar to the call we share with the neighbors on our block. At least weekly as we work, pray, and plan at the House in Orange Mound, we beckon our employees to work for the neighborhood’s healing.
When we began our mission 10 years ago, the emphasis was therapeutic and self-improvement discipleship. Extending resources to move single moms to stability above the poverty line was our goal, and we selected Orange Mound because of its proximity to the middle of the city and its reported needs. We discovered the rich history and the neighborhood pride after we bought properties here.
A decade has found us faithful to our initial vision. Now we have contextualized our discipleship beyond personal growth and piety and have expanded our assignment beyond our fences. There is a refreshed sense of public engagement and interest in the neighborhood. The perceived stability at our address is attributed in part to friendship evangelism, devoted volunteers, and the trust and dependability of our work staff. The safety we experience and feel here is palpable and gives us oxygen within our walls.
Psychiatrist, Dr. Curt Thompson, in his latest book, The Deepest Place, informs that mental health is contingent on and supported when a person is seen, soothed, secure, and safe. The 4 “Ss” are foundational before one can seek and participate in the prosperity of his home, neighborhood, or much more, his city. Our ladies are SEEN, SOOTHED, SECURE and SAFE.
Mayor Paul Young has over 100 neighborhoods to encourage and catalyze. He would do well to meet and showcase three of our ladies who are role models in the effort of improving Orange Mound.
Cool cuts yards and trims hedges for many in our neighborhood, beyond the picture-perfect state she maintains for our property. She selects a yard of the month in our zone and stakes a sign in the front yard of the winner. She also brings discarded furniture left on curbs and repurposes, refinishes, and resells it. Her mother, Ms. Pearl, delivers food from the local food banks to many of the house bound as well as for some of our employees who have no transportation.
Deborah delivers food left over from our lunches to many of the men and women she encounters on the streets on her way home. She prays for them and checks on them again. She visits our friends in the hospital, gives many employees rides to the doctor, and stays with them. Daily she intercedes in prayer and often with tears of compassion for our staff and employees.
Cheryl is “all in” and a model Orange Mound citizen. She beautifies her space, walks the neighborhood as she prays for it, drives neighborhood children to school when the weather is unpleasant, and she writes letters to pastors advocating for our unchurched neighbors. She attends all community meetings and is always informed on positive movements. She is the first to offer hope and compassion to all who enter our front door.
Our enthusiastic Mayor needs city-wide public engagement for the more than 100 neighborhoods to realize his vision of a Memphis renaissance. In the meantime, Orange Mound’s civic-minded women and men are already active in that endeavor and doing our part in Orange Mound.
Change begins in the hearts of those who love this city. Here is a list of most, if not all, of the City’s neighborhoods. The task is daunting for a city of roughly 620,000 but quite possible one neighborhood at a time, just like changing lives one teacup at a time.