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Definition of Community

By Colleen Kelly Johnston
Opinion | February 22, 2010

WICHITA, Kan. - Late last year in Wichita, a decision was made to stop any attempt by the Catholic Diocese and The Lord's Diner to establish a second unit of the facility in northeast Wichita. This after hearings before homeowner's associations, Wichita Ministerial League, the Wichita City Council and the District 1 Advisory Board. The opposition to their plan came from the "community" surrounding the proposed Northeast Lord's Diner and their representative on the Wichita City Council, LaVonta Williams.

Community can mean almost any group, large or small, of people working toward a common goal, but it should include working for the common good of everyone represented.

Comments made from representatives ran from, "...what we need are jobs," "...we worry about the neighborhood returning to blight ...," and, "... several churches in the area already distribute meals to residents."

The head of the Ministerial League proposed an alliance between the League's member churches and the Catholic Diocese for a Diner. Kevin Miles, head of the Wichita NAACP, argued the same point mentioning that the communities surrounding the location at 21st and Grove had worked hard to upgrade the area.

No one argued about the number of elderly and jobless in the area who were not served and the increasing population of families in the surrounding neighborhoods beset by poverty. The arguments for money to promote needed jobs in the area cannot be argued with either, but the Catholic Diocese is not in the jobs business and has money for feeding the homeless and poverty-stricken only.

The point not addressed, except by pictures, is the total absence of blight in the area around Central and Broadway, the original Lord's Diner location, where it continues today serve over 400 people each night, families and single men and women. Driving down the area daytime or nighttime the area is clean. The Diocese erected an attractive wrought iron fence surrounding the adjacent parking lot. There is no increase in crime (as noted in police reports) blamed on the Diner.

There was only one suggestion made at the hearings that has any possibility of respect, that was not answered. Why couldn't the Diner's Board have worked out an alliance with the Ministerial League?

Too much ego involved on both sides.


4 Comments

Is part of the problem religious competition? And yet we want more religious support from government? Religious competition is a great deal of the problem in the mid east!

Another reason for the opposition from the surrounding community is arrogant pride. The diner would have revealed the inequality of wealth and challenged residents to recognize that inequality.


Welcome to the Kansas Free Press, Colleen. We're so glad you've joined us!


Ken may be on to something when he says the Lord's Diner would show the inequality that some residents might want to keep hidden. However, that fear is overshadowed by the need to take care of people. I was puzzled by the resistance to opening this facility in that area and I still am. I guess if poverty stays hidden, it's easier to deny it exists. Thanks for writing this, Colleen.


Colleen, your observations are, sadly, right on all counts. How frustrating it is to see scuttled, a perfectly appropriate and needed place for people in need to be fed. As usual, the people who need help the most are the ones who are hurt the most by other people's desire to live in denial that poverty does, indeed, exist and that real people are in need.

I'm SO glad you are going to be offering your insights as a contributor to the Kansas Free Press. As a long-time fan of your caring and pragmatic views across a wide range of subjects, I look forward to reading each and every article you post on Kansas Free Press.


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