…today’s secret…A Baker’s Dozen of donuts

As I look back over the last year’s Tuesday PAS® Secret I found 13 donuts I thought worth sharing again.

1) A ‘marginalized population’ is a group of individuals who live in society’s margins (offenders, ex-offenders, at-risk youth, addicts, homeless, etc.). They exist nearly everywhere.

2) The word marginalized was coined in the 1970’s to better identify people not involved in mainstream economic, cultural, and social activities. Marginalized can be generational or situational. Today the word has strong political overtones.

3) There are thousands of organizations willing to intervene and help the marginalized become unmarginalized. These intervening organizations provide either a ‘Hand Out’ and/or a ‘Leg Up.’

4)Hand Out’ organizations are more situational. They help with food, shelter, clothing, etc. They do something for the individual. ‘Leg Up‘ organizations are more generational. They do something with the individual (eg., finding them work, counseling them, teaching them, coaching them, discipling them, etc.). Note: Prisons do something to the individual.

5) Unlike how a personal credit score measures credit, measuring success when unmarginalizing the marginalized is wildly subjective. Success is broadly measured when a marginalized person works and plays well with others over time. The criminal justice system is a major scorekeeper here.

6) The Big Six: The more marginalized individuals have of these six factors, the less marginalized they become.

…Age (25 years or above)
…Free of mental health and substance abuse
…Family functional
…Meaningful employment
…Belief in a higher power

7) ‘Leg Up’ organizations design their primary interventions around one or more of these six factors. (e.g., work force development, adult education, public assistance, treatment groups, missional communities, incarcerated programming, etc.).

8) Admittedly, ‘Leg Up’ unmarginalizing of the marginalized is hard.

9) Frederick Douglas wrote in 1859 that “The man who will get up will be helped up. The man who will not get up will be allowed to stay down.”

‘Leg Up’ organizations have difficulty in…

…screening in marginalized individuals they can help and screening out the bad actors they can’t help
…penetrating their applicants lying and hiding to cover a troubled past and/or receive the organization’s benefits
…generating enough resources
…having enough time to do what they do

10) All intervening organizations should agree to one common intervention outcome: raise a marginalized individual’s dignity.

11) Marginalized individuals who want to become unmarginalized share common ambitions. They want to be accepted, included, understood, and recognized. They want to find hope from a hopeless past. They want to come inside society from the outside.

12) Regardless of their chosen intervention, all organizations should try and help their marginalized maximize their individual potential and discover their true worth as God made them. In their own way, organizations should begin proving to their marginalized that safety and success can be found within society’s fringes, and each of them are worthy of loving and being loved.

13) Organizations that do not consciously advance a person’s dignity within their processes and training are, according to Henry David Thoreau, “only hacking at the branches instead of striking at the root.” Are you just hacking at the branches?