Two years ago, a conference at LeTourneau University's Belcher Center brought together men and women who wanted to become leaders in Longview and help people who needed it most.
The conference was attended by John Maxwell, a No. 1 New York Times bestselling author, coach, and speaker who has sold more than 30 million books in 50 languages.
The goal of the conference, according to Doug Case of Transformation Longview, was to create Longview’s own leadership circle, Transformation Longview, using the principles of the John Maxwell Leadership Foundation to get started.
Now, Transformation Longview works in the community to bring together people from five areas of influence – business, government, education, health care, and the faith-community to work toward common goals that would make the community better.
Through the process of collecting data and interviews with top leaders in the community, three major issues were found.
“One of our major issues is the violent crime rate is higher than the national average,” Case said. “And we found out the infant mortality rate was higher than the national average.”
Statistics gathered from Transformation Longview showed that infant mortality rate among black Longview residents was 22.5, while Caucasian mortality rates were 2.5 per 1,000.
“That’s almost 10 times the rate,” Case said.
Another statistic found was that 17.6 percent of Longview's population is living below the poverty line. The national average is 13.1 percent.
“That 5 percent has huge impacts,” he said. “We wanted to focus on that because the crime rate and infant mortality is directly linked to poverty levels.”
Transformation Longview looked at these statistics and made goals of what to do next, including helping people living in poverty to develop skills that will help them succeed.
“This means like listening, accountability and integrity,” Case said. “This pretty much empowers them.”
The next goal of the group was to spotlight 1,000 single moms for employment counseling, literacy counseling and let them know of grants, school and educational opportunitites to try to get them to be able to step out of the poverty, he said. These mothers are in the 75602-zip code.
Also, in the 75602-zip code, there is attention from the group on gaining at least 400 people more secure housing.
“Right now, there is a gap in what people make in Longview and what it takes to live there,” Case said. “The city needs to train and educate and have goals and resources to help people improve their lives.”
An upcoming goal for Transformation Longview is to partner with farms and families and to give out 60,000 pounds of food in one weekend.
“Imagine what could happen in East Texas if none of us cares who got the credit. Imagine what we could do,” Case said. “We want to get as many as we can serve. What we are looking at to really move that needle on poverty.”