Someday… stories like this one from the Statesman

This Statesman story caught me by surprise (“Beating the bushes to find the hungry in Austin,” Jan 13, 2008). In the story, Eric Dexheimer writes about Lucas Cook, whose job it is to find people across Central Texas who may qualify for food stamps but cannot manage the overly complicated application process. Cook works for Capital Area Foodbank.

According to the story, the process of applying for foodstamps is arduous and, more often than not, fruitless. Even if you can navigate all the requirements, your application can languish or get lost. And in the end, you may only get the minimum assistance for which an applicant is eligible – $10 a month.

The story is full of historical facts, relevant stats, and other important information that helps the reader put the problem in perspective. It also gives you that information at just the right moment to move the story along without sacrificing any of the drama. We also get to follow a very likable Lucas Cook on his visits, see the problem through his eyes.

Cook is the protagonist, but we’re also offered smaller characters, like the 61-year-old Conteh who lives alone and is struggling with his rent after recovering from a stroke, asthma, and arthritis. After a while of trying to interpret Conteh’s slurred speech during the application process, Cook tells him that a caseworker will come by to check on him soon. Eric Dexheimer ends the story by telling us that by the time the caseworker returns, Conteh had been evicted and was now living at the Salvation Army’s Austin Resource Center for the Homeless.

Anyone who is the least bit concerned with hunger and poverty in Austin should read this story.

I hope we can get stories like this in GoodCause someday, and I think the key to making this happen is resources. I can’t write a story like this or this well if I’m also trying to run the business. I also can’t hire someone to write this story because… well, you know, we don’t have any money yet. And we’re running out of time. And we just don’t get to hear about stories like this because we’re not the Statesman and some folks still don’t know we exist. Because we, in fact, don’t exist yet.

But in meeting more people in the nonprofit community and letting them know we’re out here, I think we’ll discover more stories like this. And in pushing the publication to print and having something to show advertisers and other supporters, I think we can get the money to pay someone to write stories like this. Baby steps. Unless Eric Dexheimer, a full-time Statesman staff writer, decides to start writing this stuff for GoodCause for free. Eric? Anything?

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One Response

  1. Hey…this is Lucas from the story! I no longer work at the food bank but I can tell you I encountered cases like that on a very regular basis. It saddened my heart to see people so helpless on multiple platforms. I hope many people read this story and draw the truth from it.

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