By Harry Hawkins

When I think of a quarter, my thoughts drift toward currency and money. But in this case, a quarter signifies something different. Nehemiah is approaching its 25th year of serving the Madison community, and a bit of reflection is warranted.

As we get closer to the big date, we’ll spend some time looking back at the people, programs, and supporters that make up those 25 years. But, I wanted to take a first look at what makes us keep going after a quarter of a century working in the Southside of Madison.

Hope. This is a fast diminishing currency in our day. Politics, religion, finances and foreign affairs give us all reason to find a large hole and hide away until the trouble passes. Unfortunately, we know that isn’t a solution. So Nehemiah has worked on bringing hope to a city who wants to see all of its citizens thrive. We have strived to deliver hope in areas where people no longer believed themselves worthy of it, and prove them wrong. Hope allows people to push through challenges and hurt. It allows others to catch the vision and rally support behind people and causes. In so many ways, we couldn’t do any of the work we do without this ingredient.

Transformation. True change happens at the heart level, deep where fears and insecurities hide. It happens under the skin where prejudices linger and doubt eats away at the soul. Transformation isn’t a word we place on a wall or plague. and laud it as a worthy goal. No, we practice it daily. Many of the students we mentored in our first years have come back to help the next generation through donations, mentoring, and becoming part of our staff. We trained many of our leaders of today, many years ago. In short, we walk the talk, and our people and their transformed lives prove it.

Justice. With hope in our hearts and a transformed base of supporters, we build value in individuals and stabilize communities. We pursue justice by tackling the challenges of righting the wrongs in society for African American families.

Looking back on the past 25 years of your life, how has Nehemiah brought you hope, transformed your life, or delivered justice? Tell us on facebook, so everyone can share in the conversation.