Like most of the people reading this, I have more than enough meetings. So, when someone calls and says they want to get together, I have learned to ask a few questions ahead of time. I should have asked more questions about my meeting this week with Steve Smith. I might have declined.
I like entrepreneurs. I like almost everything about them – even their sometimes odd personalities, quirks and messiness. They look for opportunities instead of excuses. They look at the facts squarely, calculate the risk, and if it looks like there is more chance of success than failure (even a small chance) they make the jump. They are the enemies of the expected and the ordinary.
Steve Smith operates Legacy Royalties in Tyler. Eighteen months ago, he and his wife Susan, had a chance encounter with Gospel Village through their church. As a result they and their family have become mentors for a 2nd grade student in TISD. I should say they are also becoming mentors for the whole family. Maybe an even better way of saying it is they are becoming friends – not rescuers.
We all know the statistics about public schools in Tyler. Twenty-two of the 25 schools are Title 1, meaning more than 40 percent of the student population lives in poverty. That’s more than 11,800 children, most from single-parent homes with more than two children. As Rebecca Hoeffner, the religion editor for the Tyler Morning Telegraph explained, that is $1,166 a month: $269 a week for rent, food, clothes, health care, and transportation. Of course, just as much of their poverty is the absence of relationships with people who believe in them for all the right reasons.
A community like Tyler cannot thrive without an appropriate intervention. So many of the trends in this community are up – economy, housing, small business creation, population increases and investment in growth. How can we invest in children who can be a part of the future of this community? How can we do something – small or large – to calculate the risk and make the jump? That is what Steve Smith and his family are doing. They’ve answered that question for themselves.
Steve isn’t starting a ministry or non-profit. He doesn’t need money. He needs to hear from others in Tyler who have sensed the same thing but maybe not done anything about it. He needs co-conspirators in his plot. Give him a call if you are interested.