This morning began with a fitting at a local alterations business off of Martin Luther King Drive in Waco. In preparation for the SREC meeting in Hillsboro on Jan. 15th, and always running late, I was finally taking the time to visit Mary, a veteran Seamstress and local business owner. I was about 30 minutes early, so I decided to drive the neighborhood and have a look around.
This neighborhood sits across the highway from downtown Waco…just across the river from Baylor University, one of the nation’s most prestigious universities. Driving up and down the streets, I could see the Alico building, and the Baylor Medical building in the distance. It reminded me of Oak Cliff. A view of the city from the barrio.
I saw kids lined up, waiting for their bus outside Lakeside Village, bundled up and cold.
At 8:30, I returned for my fitting, blown away by what I had seen.
Had these children eaten breakfast? Did they have lunch money?
Who knows? Who cares?
Many of these children are unknowingly growing up and perpetuating the cycle of poverty. I spoke to Mary, the business owner, about the neighborhood and asked her a few questions about her view on why the Hispanic community was in such bad shape.
She was eager to talk about the issues and said, “The problem with people today is they don’t know how to work. When I was growing up, my father told us that any job was an honorable job. As long as it allowed you to provide for yourself and your family. If you had to dig ditches…then be proud to dig ditches…that doesn’t mean you have to be satisfied with that…you can always try to do better.”
We talked about teen pregnancy and about our culture. She said that “we’ve been taught to take hand-outs…” and although she voted for Barack Obama, she acknowledged he was just a “little puppet.”
I asked her what she thought about securing the border…”Well, we’re gonna have to do it,” she exclaimed, “It’s getting too dangerous.” She went on to say that those “trapped” on the U.S. side when the border closes, will never go back to Mexico. “They don’t want to go back now,” said a frustrated Montoya. In response to a question on what to do with those in limbo, she quickly shared her view on a situation close to her. “Some people have to pay to go to college,” said Montoya. “They work hard and pay their own way. But I have a friend from Mexico, who sent her child to the University of Texas in Austin, and they went for free…that’s not right,” she said.
I’m not sure if undocumented/illegal residents can go to college for free, but her perception was that they were just milking the system.
We began talking about the condition of the neighborhood…talking about the trash on the streets and the junk in the yards. Mary shrugged her shoulders and said, “You know what the problem is? No one has any pride. These kids aren’t learning about pride from their families.” It is a sad dialogue, but one we must face head on if we stand a chance at reversing our course.
As we finished our fitting, she filled out my ticket and took my name and number. Then she asked me, “So, are you a Democrat or a Republican?” I proudly told her I was a Republican…the Party that is Pro Immigration, Pro-Life and Pro Family.
I said, “You can be my Boots on the Ground…I can call you and you can give me the run-down.” She laughed and acted like she was reporting for duty.
We had a great conversation and I learned a lot from her…you just never know how one person impacts another.