Inspired folk help poor; group works for unity in community

Inspired folk help poor; group works for unity in community

Though they came from different walks of faith and spirituality, about 20 people gathered on the common ground of South Park in Lawrence to gain inspiration for helping the poor in Douglas County.

According to an invitational letter written by Lawrence Community Interfaith Initiative Coordinator Steve Ozark, Sunday’s event was convocation to help initiate ideas and discussions to aid those living in poverty.

Poems were read, songs were sung and thoughts were expressed and heard from those who have experienced poverty first hand.

Lawrence resident Chris Schaffer said even though there wasn’t a large attendance, the event was important in order to encourage a larger movement.

“I think it was a good place to jump off from,” Schaffer said. “Real change starts with small groups. This was a good chance to get different perspectives.”

Hubbard Collinsworth, now a program administrator at the Pélathé Community Resource Center, said he has lived in poverty before and believes this event is an example of how people with differences can get together for good.

“It is well evident that the faiths can work together and forget their ideals and belief structures,” Collinsworth said. “I was homeless in (Lawrence) for two years, and this shows that people do care about their fellow citizens in Lawrence.”

Vicar of Trinity Lutheran Church Dave Whetter said the event was inspiring to him, as well. “It’s an event to draw awareness to the needs of the community,” Whetter said. “We can pick an area of need in the community and help. For me, it is about being involved, and it was inspiring to see other people taking this seriously. Part of the purpose of this is that with God’s help we can do all of these things.”

Minister to the University Ira DeSpain said the event was a good example of how an interfaith action can “give footing” to a positive movement.

“I think it is true in a diverse culture that a way for people to live with our diversity is to take focus away from differences and see what focuses we can work on together,” DeSpain said. “It is in working on common goals that promotes more human understanding.”