News and Tribune

October 4, 2012

Hope Summit to discuss the toxic culture of handouts

Group talk will tackle question, ‘Are we giving too much?’


NEW ALBANY — Sometimes, do we try to do too much? Are we creating a toxic cultural with our generosity and handouts.

Those topics and many more will be discussed at the first-ever Hope Summit, an event sponsored by Hope Southern Indiana and Clean Socks Hope. The summit will take place at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 7, at The Grand, 138 Market St., in downtown New Albany.

Leroy Barber of FCS Urban Ministries, will be the guest speaker and will talk about charity and if what we are doing for the less fortunate is helping, or hindering them. The event is free.

“He is a pretty dynamic speaker,” said Christine Harbeson, executive director of Hope Southern Indiana. “I am hoping for a rousing talk. He will basically be discussing toxic charity. Are we taking charity to a point that we are not helping people and just holding them down?”

Barber has dedicated more than 20 years to eradicating poverty and restoring local neighborhoods. After creating organizations, such as Restoration Ministries in Philadelphia and Atlanta Youth Academies, he has served as director of FCS Urban Ministries since 2006.   

“There are many wonderful agencies out there and we all need to work together to lift people up,” Harbeson said.

Harbeson said agencies need to work on building relationships and make connections with those in need. She said after the event, several people will gather at The Grand to continue the discussion.

“We have so many wonderful people here who work well together,” she said. “We want to take it one step further. It takes a lot of people. It’s just not about giveaways, but also encouragement.”

Jeff Minton, executive director of Clean Socks Hope, said in an email that FCS has partnered with 13 communities over the last 30 years helping people who live and work in the neighborhood to change the way they think and work with the poor, the mentally ill and the homeless by using “Biblical and Godly principles.”

“The effort by FCS made sense to us and the hundreds of organizations that are simply tweaking how things are done,” he said.

Minton said in 1990, Barber was burdened by the plight of Philadelphia’s homeless, so he founded Restoration Ministries to serve homeless families and children living on the streets. In 1997, he joined FCS Urban Ministries serving as the director of Atlanta Youth Academies, a private elementary school, to provide quality Christian education for low-income families in the inner city.

“Our hope and dream is to work side by side with every church and denomination and from every walk of life,” Minton said. “Our vision is to break the cycles of exploitation by building collaborative leadership skills from childhood to adulthood, block by block, championing the human dignity of the many races, cultures and classes represented in our communities.”