When asked where I live, I tell them South Louisville. Sometimes there’s a not-knowing look so I give them a hint: “It’s over by Vietnam Kitchen,” which is immediately followed by recognition.
As much as we all love VK, South Louisville should be known for so much more. Talking with a group of neighbors, some of whom have been here for a very long time, we made a list of things we loved. “There’s something genuine about this neighborhood.” “And everyone seems to have a whole lot of grit.” “There’s also a do-it-yourself mentality.” “Did you know we’re the most diverse neighborhood in Louisville?” “Have we mentioned the food?! And what about the parks?”
After a decade of bouncing around the globe, not even realizing I was looking for community, I stumbled upon this place and put my roots down without delay. This is home to me. And to serve this neighborhood at South Louisville Community Ministries is an honor.
The word “community” has been used a great deal (as any word that holds such importance) and, in time, can lose some of its punch. It’s an active word - like “gratitude” - something you are upholding constantly in order for it to be. In community, we do not only give, but we also learn to ask for what it is we need. Like a huge family we learn to be gracious and vulnerable.
This past week, the church I attend helped our dear friends who have recently arrived from Syria. Their car, which they need to get to work, had been stripped of its tires overnight. This unfortunate event would lead to crises quickly. No car equals no work and the spiral is clear from there. Or they take out a line of credit with high interest and find themselves in a different kind of spiral. Instead, tires were donated and they went to work the next day. Another friend had back surgery and with a baby and a toddler, dinner was near impossible so we scheduled dinner to be dropped off all week. Meals were delivered and emergency assistance was offered.
This is community. It’s asking for help when we need it and knowing there are people to support you when you do. This is also the greater purpose of faith communities: an insurance policy that’s built on compassion. South Louisville Community Ministries takes on that mission regardless of one’s membership or spiritual beliefs. But this work is only as strong as the community that supports it.
This is why we’re starting Our Neighborhood Fund. Right now SLCM has to turn away almost half of the people who come to us asking for emergency assistance. Funding for medication has been cut and we haven’t been able to provide simple needs such as eye glasses or bus tickets to job interviews in quite some time.
Most of us are much closer to crisis than we realize. And even with policy and programs, there are voids and gaps that neighbors are able to fill. So we’re asking neighbors to love their neighbors and give to uphold this community. Our Neighborhood Fund will be SLCM’s source for preventing crises through simple acts of kindness which might look like help with medication allowing someone to work, or extra diapers during a particularly challenging month or just that little bit extra for the gas bill in the winter. Your donation will help cover the comparatively minimal cost of these crucial items and time-sensitive bills as well as the related supporting service costs. We believe in transparency and communication so if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.
I know this is a bold way to begin my time at SLCM, but it’s because I know and trust my neighbors. I know that when I ask for help in a time of crisis, I will be loved and cared for because in South Louisville, we know what community is.
We are all in this together, after all.