By Darryl Byrd, President and CEO of SA2020
Today, I should be starving.
I’ve chosen to fast until I can raise $1,000 for the Inner City Development’s Emergency Food Pantry, which serves families on the West Side of San Antonio. Between the group of volunteers who’ve signed on to fast, we hope to raise the $30,000 needed to stock the pantry for a full year.
However, my hunger pains are gone. Because of the overwhelming support of friends and family (who probably don’t want to see me get any skinnier), I’ve already exceeded the goal of $1,000 for the Food Pantry. I’m still raising money, and hoping to contribute as much as possible to the cause. However, my achievement is bittersweet. I am lucky enough to be surrounded by a strong support network, and I can end the fast as easily as I began. This is not an option for some.
For some families, hunger is an everyday reality. As I studied the reality of hunger, one difficult truth has hung over me: food insecurity can literally rob children of the opportunity to enjoy childhood, learn, and succeed in school. The quality of education a child receives can be totally undermined if they must leave home hungry, tired, unable to focus. Good nutrition is vital to establishing a good foundation for a child’s future physical and mental health, academic achievement, and economic productivity.
The opportunity to participate in this effort has reminded me – yet again – of the powerful difference that one individual can make to our community. A group of us can provide the necessary means to serve an estimated 70,000 meals in the economically poorest area of Bexar County. As a volunteer, contributing my small efforts to the larger group, I can make a real, meaningful, and measurable difference to children and families in my community. And I know that, because hunger and poverty are one of the greatest obstacles to academic and economic success, by battling those obstacles we are taking steps toward a stronger future for our city.
That is what I think it means to say “I Am SA2020.” I am one person, choosing to devote time to issues that I believe are important to my community. We came together and decided that we wanted to lower the poverty rate in San Antonio. We created a vision for the future of our city, one where “the entire community — individuals, businesses, local government, nonprofits, and faith-based organizations — takes responsibility for our collective well-being by providing information, access, high quality services and a meaningful sense of stability to residents of all ages and backgrounds.”
A vision is an amazing thing, but what’s even more amazing is helping it become reality.