With tears in his eyes, he shared his frustration when the school district asked if he gets food stamps. He told them that he doesn't take any government aid, and I could see that this was a point of pride for him.
The school district's response was, "Then how do we know you're low-income?"
"It's so hard," he whispered, shaking his head.
Anger welled up in me to see this proud man, a strong brother in Christ, hanging his head in defeat. What kind of system punishes people for not taking government aid?
When my anger had subsided to a slow burn, Walter popped in my office. He was buying plane tickets for an upcoming conference and realized that one of our partners doesn't have an ID.
Just the day before I had sat with our friend to finalize the partnership between her church and our community. She told me of her deep desire for training and excitement to learn all she can about community development.
Her work speaks for itself, though. She is making huge changes in her neighborhood, even before she has models and language for the work. And now we weren't sure if she could come to the training. How can we move capable, willing people forward in their development if we can't move them around the country?
These questions swirled in my mind as I got ready for bed. And I thought of my privileged upper-middle class upbringing and how I have rarely been told "no." I rarely had to accept the status quo. I could always find a way.
Except for now. I sit with the way things are. Instead of making a call to an important person, I stand with my neighbor and cry. Instead of laying down more cash to make a way, I shrug my shoulders and say, "You can't go, and that's how it is for now."