Journalism in the public interest for Northeast Texas

Meals On Wheels is a program that matters: A letter from LCHRC Executive Director Shelly Braziel

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More than 20 years ago, I volunteered my first hour for a local non-profit. At the time, I had no idea the path it would lead me on, but it laid the cornerstone for what I would become.

When I was 25, I made the decision to dedicate my life to public service.  I knew the money would not be great. I knew the hours would be long. What I didn’t know was how huge the reward would be.

I spent the next few years working for a large Oklahoma non-profit, Oklahoma State University, and the state of Texas. Then I arrived here, at Lamar County Human Resource Council. When I was offered the job as executive director, I screamed, I yelled, I jumped but if I’m being honest I had no idea what I was getting into.

I’m not going to lie, the first few months were scary and bumpy but before the end of my first year I settled into a groove, and I knew this was where I was meant to be.

The agency has been lucky these last three years, growing more and more as each year passes. We are serving more seniors and disabled individuals than we ever have before.  In fact, the number has nearly double from when I started. In the for profit world that means dollar signs; to me that means fear. The senior population is at an all time high and by 2020 it’s expected to significantly increase. My job is to serve every single person in need — every person that needs a meal. Find the money. Somewhere. But what if the money isn’t there? What if the money we have been counting on is gone. Then what? How do we serve every single senior living in hunger?

This is the current threat I face, but I’m not facing it alone. The people we serve, our board, staff and volunteers are there with me, searching for a way to keep people fed.

Non-profit’s are used to possible budget cuts but this one seems more real, more of a threat. Why? Its not just a proposed budget cut. It’s not the funding that bothers me. Its someone, who doesn’t see what I see, standing on a hill, saying We Don’t Matter.

That led me to this point. We matter.  We are screaming from the rooftops. We do matter. I matter. The staff matters. The board matters. Our volunteers matter. Every donor and sponsor matters. But most importantly, the people we serve matter. The more than 1,000 people we serve hot meals to five days a week. They matter.  

So this campaign, this letter, it isn’t about money. It’s about us. Everyone of us, those that would lose their jobs, those that would have to volunteer elsewhere, those that could no longer donate to Meals on Wheels, lastly and most importantly those who will go hungry. These meals mean something to every single one of us.  

I am standing up. I’m speaking out. I’m calling on you to join me, not just May 5, not just by wearing blue, not just by coming out Friday night, but every single day from this point forward, to show Washington that We Matter.

 

Sincerely,

Shelly Braziel
Executive Director
Lamar County Human Resource Council

 

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