As president of the Network of Community Ministries, and as a longtime resident of Lake Highlands, I would like to address a concern that is really bothering me.

In 1995, we who served on the board of directors reluctantly voted to close the Lake Highlands office of Network. Economic factors were the ONLY reason this action was taken. It was financially impossible to keep two offices open, and to top it off, the landlord presented us with a hefty increase in our lease!

We found that there were no facilities anywhere in Lake Highlands we could have free. We are still open to the idea of having a facility in Lake Highlands, but must know that we will have a continuing flow of money for the space, and a full-time paid employee to run it.

There seem to be a lot of bitter feelings about this move, and I personally welcome anyone talking with me about it. LetÕs drop the personal feelings and get on with the job of helping people!

We at Network were concerned that we would see a severe drop in the number of people from the 75238, 41 and 43 zip codes. But instead, in 1997, more than 50 percent of our clients came from this area. In contrast to that, of the 340 volunteers working at Network, only 18 come from our area! Few of the churches and civic organizations of Lake Highlands donate money to help these clients who are our neighbors.

Network was formed by churches and civic organizations so that they would have a place to send those in need. Member organizations know that clientsÕ needs will be carefully and thoroughly checked out before any help is given.

What can you do to help? You can volunteer your time Ð the shifts are three hours long. The Network office is just off Plano Road and Arapaho Ð easy to get to from Lake Highlands. And, you can urge your church and service organizations to financially participate in helping those who are in emergency situations.

Let’s start holding up our end of the deal, and stop relying on the people and businesses of Richardson to take care of those less fortunate in OUR neighborhood.

Suzanne A. Harned