Books Matter: Dillon Meek

March is National Reading Month, a whole month designated to encouraging Americans – and by extension Wacoans – to read! The Act Locally Waco blog is beating the drum for National Reading Month by hosting a blog series throughout the month of March, called “Books Matter.” Every day throughout March we will be sharing a post about a Waco resident and a book that matters to him/her.  Thank you to students from the Baylor Department of Journalism, Public Relations and New Media and professor Amber Adamson for help with this fun project.  To read all the blog posts so far, click here

“To quote my daughter’s favorite movie, Frozen 2, ‘Do the next right thing,’” Dillon Meek said.

Meek, a local lawyer and city council member, first read The Hiding Place in the 6th grade and then reread it about two years ago. 

“It’s a true story, which I think makes it all the more compelling, but it reads like a fiction-adventure book about a family who chooses to do the right thing in the midst of really negative consequences,” Meek said.

The Hiding Place is an autobiography written by Corrie Ten Boom about how her family hid Jews in their watch shop in Poland during the height of Nazi power. This dangerous endeavor saved the lives of countless Jews, but resulted in the arrest and ultimately, the imprisonment of Ten Boom’s whole family. Once in the concentration camp, Ten Boom and her family were able to continue their ministry by showing the love and kindness of Christ to those around them. 

 “They weren’t looking to be these great figures of social justice,” Meek said. “But the war and the Holocaust happened around them, and they just responded as they believed they were required to. I think they did so lovingly and with dignity to the people around them. Obviously unafraid of the consequences to themselves, and I think ultimately carrying love completely, which I think is profound too.”

Meek said he believes that this story of hope and doing the right thing can continue to inspire people today as it shows how everyday people can choose to have a positive impact on the world around them. This is also a story of sacrifice, and Meek said this story encourages the people of Waco to ask the question of how they can have a positive impact in their world where there might be injustice around them. 

“In Waco, for me specifically, there is generational poverty and I [think] there are solutions to resolving that,” Meek said. “My heart and my hope is that we can bring creative and innovative changes to our system to break generational poverty. That’s very different than responding to Nazis but it’s recognizing that there’s change, there’s positive impact in my world and so as an ordinary person, what can I do?”

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4 Comments

  1. Susan Waggoner Elliott on April 3, 2020 at 12:01 pm

    Dillon, thanks for sharing your book ideas from The Hiding Place.
    How can I hear and learn more about creative and innovative (two of my favorite words!) changes to systems in Waco?
    Sue Elliott

  2. Dave Morrow on April 5, 2020 at 4:20 pm

    Susan,
    Prosper Waco http://www.prosperwaco.org evolved from a study by Upjohn https://research.upjohn.org/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1212&context=reports. If you look over the Upjohn report first, the Prosper Waco approach makes sense. Prosper Waco has a three-pronged approach to curing endemic poverty: health, education, and financial security (AKA good-paying jobs). We are doing pretty well with improving health but education and jobs are lagging. I would like the City to put more $$ and manpower into implementing the Prosper Waco initiative.

  3. Ashley Thornton on April 9, 2020 at 6:44 am

    Actually Prosper Waco came first, then the Upjohn report.

  4. Dillon Meek on May 14, 2020 at 10:55 am

    Hi Susan,

    Sorry for delayed response! A complete answer to your question could be very long, so I’ll just throw out an example of one thing we could do. If you want to discuss more, feel free to email me at Dillon.Meek@wacotx.gov or call me at 254-640-1604. Also, as the economic landscape changes with the impact of COVID, the ideas might also need to be altered or reprioritized. But here goes:

    Waco’s unemployment rate (pre-COVID) has been incredibly low; it was one of the lowest in Texas. However, Waco’s median income range is low too. In other words, people are working (sometimes multiple jobs) but many are not making enough to live financially secure lives. Also, interestingly enough, the sector in our economy with the largest employment vacancy are skilled jobs that pay solid, livable wages (think: HVAC techs, electricians, welders, healthcare, skilled manufacturing [vs. entry manufacturing]). Said another way, employers need skilled employees for their businesses and are willing to pay them a solid wage, but too much of the local workforce lacks the requisite training/certification/skills to keep higher-skill jobs filled. It seems, then, that one way to raise the median income in Waco is by providing access to workforce training programs that result in a certification of a learned skill. (For a brief period of time, Waco had a program in Waco called Skillpoint Alliance that did this, however, this nonprofit is no longer in Waco. Also, currently the public school districts in McLennan County offer a variety of academies (GWAMA, GWAHCA) but nothing for folks out of school.) There are many organizations and non-profits in Waco that are already providing good job-training programs but Waco currently lacks any well known, certification-based higher-skills training program that can put folks on a career path to earn a livable wage. Ideally this could be offered at flexible times (including evenings and nights) and located at a variety of locations that are easily accessible to folks that would benefit (including city community centers). Also, ideally businesses would contribute to funding said program as they would receive benefit from a more robust workforce. This subject is obviously complex, with many caveats, but is one idea of how we can work creatively and innovatively to improve the lives of Wacoans!

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