Today I watched a documentary about the poverty in Portland. It was about local families that were/are struggling to make ends meat. Families that weren’t able to pay their water and electric bills. Foreclosures and living in shelters. It was heart breaking to see. I haven’t written about it, but I grew up very very poor. With a young single mother and 3 younger siblings we could barely get by. There were times when we didn't have a home or know where we would get our next meal.
Watching the documentary brought back so many horrible memories that I had put behind me, things that I hadn’t thought about in years. Things that I didn’t want to think about so I pushed them to the back of my mind. But, I think I needed a reminder. It’s so easy to get comfortable and take things for granted. I've never had to worry about my daughter’s next meal. I am fortunate to be my own boss doing a job that I love. I am so blessed to live in a beautiful house, something I never thought I would have. We are healthy and happy with full bellies every night. I feel so blessed and so grateful for my life. It is truly more than I ever dared to dream or hope for.
There are so many people out there who can't find a job, who need help, who are starving. Yet, on facebook I see harsh ecards condemning people who seek help. There are so many misconceptions about public assistance and the people who are receiving it. I won't go into that, but here is a great myth/fact article if you care to read about it: Facts and Myths about "Welfare".
It turned into a very emotional day and it really got me thinking: What can I do to help those in need. What can I do to help end poverty?
Although these are just small steps, every tiny step makes a difference.
There are many things you can donate. You can donate money to an organization, you can donate food, or you can donate things around the house that you no longer use. This is something I try to do on a regular basis. Go through your things at home. If there are things that you haven't used in quite some time box them up. The princess is constantly growing out of clothes and toys.
Rather than donating items to places like Goodwill, I try to donate to shelters or families that I know can use the things I no longer do.
Giving a few hours of your time can make a big difference to many people out there! There are many things that you can help with such as mentoring, serving food, educating, and even administrative support. I found a great site called Volunteer Match. It can help you find a local place that can use your help.
You may be thinking, what does shopping local have to do with helping those in need. In the long run, it does. By shopping local you are supporting local farms and small businesses which can only help your local economy grow.
These are just a few suggestions. Writing and reading about poverty is one thing and doing is another... I have contacted a few local shelters about volunteering and am hoping that I can be of some help. I hope that I have moved someone else to do the same. Together we can make a difference.
If you would like to read more about Poverty, there are many great websites. Here are just a few:
End Poverty 2015
Global Call to Action Against Poverty