The Worth of Community
Closed Caption Transcript:
Hi, my name is Nicole Henry, and I'm a current resident and lifelong citizen of Fort Worth, Texas. I love my city. One of the things I love most about my city is the neighborhood I grew up in, the Eastwood community. I can remember as a middle schooler and a high schooler, the sense of belonging that was there among the people on my street, the people at my church, the teachers and the parents at the schools I went to, there was just a sense of togetherness and understanding, a support that even though it was mostly unspoken, you knew you weren't alone. I miss that sense of community. I've often heard people say that while I've gotten myself together, others have to take care of their own families. Or I just have to mind my business. It's not my concern what's happening with my neighbor next door or in my neighbor's house next door. But I disagree with that. I think in community we are meant to support each other. To care for each other. To look out for each other. And that means sharing in our resources. That means sharing in our successes. That means when someone else is in need that we do what we can to help them. That's why I started Shared Worth. In 2019, we launched Shared Worth of Tarrant County. Shared Worth is a non-profit that provides affordable housing options for our citizens in our county. The reality is that in Tarrant County, for a single parent with two children to make basic needs... That's rent, utilities, groceries. In order just to meet those basic needs, that parent would have to make at least twenty two dollars an hour. Unfortunately, that's not the reality for many of our workers here in Tarrant County. If that parent makes minimum wage, he or she would have to work 121 hours a week to meet those basic needs. For our senior citizens living on retirement pensions or widow's benefits, that story is much bleaker. They are spending over 60 percent of their fixed income on meeting basic needs, which doesn't give them the opportunity when there increases in their utilities, prescription costs or unexpected household repairs or car repairs. It doesn't give them the opportunity to meet those needs. Instead, it puts them into a spiral downward. So I started Shared Worth to provide affordable housing options. We have three programs. The first launched in 2019 and that's shared housing. Shared housing matches a homeowner who we call house rich, but money poor. That's that widow. That's that retired individual that's now living on a single fixed income but has a house that's paid for. So they have a home. But now, because they are on fixed income, they can't meet the basic necessities of caring for that home and other needs that you need daily. So we match them with a woman or a man that is either single unaccompanied or have one or two children. We've matched them together and that seeker comes in and pays a low rent. And that provides that seeker with the low rent, affordable, safe place to stay while they're in school, while they're taking classes to increase their earning potential, while they're paying down debt. And then it provides that homeowner additional income to meet their basic needs. Our second program is called Co-Share. That's where we match two or three single individuals and they decide to come in and find a rental property and share the expenses equally. Kind of like a Golden Girls situation. And then after third program that we hope to launch soon is called Shared Community. And this is where we are very intentional in creating community. That community I spoke about earlier. There, we'll purchase fourplexes and duplexes and each of those units we will place individuals that agree to live intentionally in community. So what does that mean? That means in one unit of that duplex, we may have two single women that are sharing the rental cost and the household expenses for that unit. And then in the second unit, we place a single mom with two or three children and those two households agree to support each other. So the two senior women may provide a home cooked meal for that single mom that's working full time and trying to manage to care for her three children. And then for that single mom. She then gets the support of the two older women as well... By maybe they help get the children off the bus while mom is still at work. But then she provides errands and other support, maybe household chores to those two senior women. So it's a give and take situation, but it's meant to be community because that's what community is about, give and take. One of my favorite stories in the Bible that I like to share, is the story of Cain and Abel. And if you heard it, don't worry, I won't go into details. But between those two brothers, there was jealousy and one harmed the other. And when asked where his brother was, Cain replied, Am I my brother's keeper? Well, that paradigm still exists today. That I just have to worry about myself. I can't worry about others. I have to worry about my own household. If I made it, they can work hard and make it, too. But the truth is, we're not playing on a level playing field. And we do have to help each other. We do have to be intentional and share our resources and support one another. And that's why I created Shared Worth. Because as a community member I felt a strong sense of responsibility in helping care for my neighbors and helping make sure that my neighbors and even those that I don't know have the opportunity that I have, that my family have, to be successful, to be happy. Everybody deserves a safe, stable place to live. Am I my brothers and sisters keeper? Yes, I am. And you are, too. Have a great day.