Monday, October 22, 2012

Just what we don't need

According to an article in this morning's Trentonian, the city of Trenton will soon host another "march against gun violence."

Organized by 22 year old Josilyn Steward, the march is tentatively scheduled for November 4 at 2:00 p.m.

While it is always a good thing when people are motivated to "do something" in the wake of a tragedy, that desire to get involved needs to be tempered with common sense.  When deciding a course of action, one must ask and answer specific questions.

What is the goal of this activity? What will be the end result? How will this help further "the cause?" Indeed, what, exactly, is the purpose of the action to be taken?

So, what is the purpose of this march? To call attention to the wave of violence that is flooding our streets right now? 

There is no need. We are all aware of it.

What will this march do to reduce the violent crime?

Honestly, nothing.

The article goes on to state that the support that Ms.Steward is receiving for her plans to hold a march is spawning something else. Those that are coalescing around this idea to hold a march and rally are considering using this as a springboard to launch a non-profit. The purpose of this as yet unnamed, new entity would be to raise money to help fund activities for the city's youth.

"Ah,' you say, "that's good. That's productive."

We say, "Is it?"

Let us throw the wet blanket of reality on this scenario.

Starting a non-profit requires, the filing of some paperwork (and paying of certain fees), and establishing a board of directors with by laws to operate by, etc.

None of that is an impossible task. Indeed, look at the roster of registered non-profits in this area and you will realize that we have an abundance of them. The IRS website lists 448 non-profits with a Trenton, NJ address.

That's over 400 entities striving for a piece of the community's charitable contributions. How is this new non-profit going to compete? What service will it provide that isn't already being covered by one of the existing groups?

There has been recent press coverage about how difficult it has become for established charities to maintain the necessary funding to meet their objectives. The fiscal pie is shrinking in size and more entities are vying for their fair share.

Rather than promote another march and rally that will just be a one-time expenditure of social capital, why not direct that energy into support for existing entities and programs that need volunteers? Why not help raise awareness of the need for funding that already exists and help direct resources...human and capital...there?

Our baseball leagues need coaches and other help; our library (the real library, not the bogus learning centers) and its "friends" organization can use volunteers and fundraising assistance; the Boys and Girls Club, the CYO and the YMCA can all use volunteers and help with raising money. Those are just a few notable examples of entities doing good work that need more help. Work with them or some of the other organizations that provide mentoring and/or recreational opportunities to our city's youth.

In the Trentonian article, Ms. Steward is quoted as saying,  “I want to put the unity back into the community.”

Fantastic idea!  Help unite the community with the institutions that are already here and helping them extend their reach and increase their capacity.

That is the way to make a difference.

1 comment:

Barry said...

Jim, you are right on the money! Real change will take place when people take real action to improve the quality of life e.g volunteer for one of the many existing organizations that you mentioned who are already doing good work. Another march, another non-profit? Not needed. So if one wants to march, then yes, they can march into one of the good organizations and get involved on having a real and lasting impact.