“There are places in America that I think of as hinges of hope. They encompass despair but also promise. These challenging, seemingly intractable conditions have attracted amazing people who have committed their lives to ameliorating them. They represent some of our nations’ toughest and most stubborn problems and if we can make a difference there, we should be able to succeed anywhere. But the door could swing either way. If we can impact its direction, hope could flow freely instead of being locked out.” – Billy Shore
For nine years, Share Our Strength has been leading tours of influencers into areas of the country where extreme challenges with poverty and hunger are being met with innovative, inspiring work. Share Our Strength founder Billy Shore coined the phrase Hinges of Hope to describe these tours.
I had the privilege of being on the first of these tours, held in 2002, which explored work being done in the Mississippi Delta and the Rio Grande Valley. The trip was a watershed event for me. We were at ground zero on work being done in the midst of the greatest need. I was with people who were already passionate about the issue. It’s difficult under those circumstances not to be infected with that passion. (more on that later).
I’ve been on several such trips since then, including the most recent one, in Little Rock, just this past Tuesday. The tour, led by Billy Shore, focused on some great work being done with the Arkansas No Kid Hungry initiative. Tyson Foods CEO, Donnie Smith joined Wal-Mart senior leaders, elected officials and staff members, other corporate representatives and hunger leaders. It began at the Arkansas governor’s mansion, with remarks by Gov. Beebe, who along with First Lady Ginger Beebe and Wal-Mart has been instrumental in bringing No Kid Hungry to Arkansas. From there, we visited sites in Little Rock and North Little Rock, where summer feeding programs are making the difference in the lives of thousands of central Arkansas children.
Many of us who spend a great deal of time talking about hunger relief, don’t spend nearly enough time close to the subject. We should be reminded more often and more honestly of what we’re talking about. We should meet face-to-face the people whose lives are affected by food insecurity. And we should invest more of our own time to see the work of those who are investing their own lives to change the world.