I turn on the news and I watch....the many many stories about people in need. Across the seas, in larger cities, in poverty stricken countries and disaster stricken areas. It is almost too much to handle at times. I feel helpless.
This past year, my heart and my attention have been directed to a different kind of crisis - to a different kind of plight. The plight of the poverty stricken families right here in my own world. Right here in my own town. This year, 8.9% of the families here in Nassau County are below the poverty level. Not low income....BELOW THE POVERTY LEVEL. Based on the 2009 population estimates, this means that 6,275 people....right here in this small area...will be unable to feed their children, afford clothing, afford education, have a quality life...this year.
Over 6,000 people. In Nassau County Alone......Children, elderly, men, women......they can't afford to live? Aghhhh.....how do you even hear this statistic? It hurts me in every part of my body just to type it and it brings a sting to my eyes to know that I love someone that is being affected by this reality right now.
I'll digress for newcomers on this topic for a second and take you back back to a story that I have been sharing all year. My little Mentee. He is 6. He is handsome. He is funny. But the truth of the matter is...he and his 2 year old brother have been living in a homeless shelter for many months. They have been abandoned by their mother, taken in by a family member that was no ready in any way to care for them, yet loved them enough to take them anyway....they have been hungry, dirty, sad, lonely....And now...finally....they have been given a real home!
Their own home! A great day....one would think. Until that is....I saw their new home. And I will not go into too many details, but for those of you who know me...I am not a cryer. And I cried for about 24 hours after leaving this "new" home.
I think I already knew what I would find when I went there. But I had such high hopes of more that I just didn't allow myself to think "real" thoughts. But there it was in front of me. It was not a home. It was dirty, smelly, empty, sad......
Yes...they needed 4 walls and roof, and they got that. But I think in my idealistic mind...this "home" is what they needed to come out of their struggle. And now I am forced to see it for what it is. A step...a small step....and now comes the harder part.
This family needs help to LEARN how to make a "home" and a "life" for themselves. Poverty comes from a lack of education in many cases - this case being no different. And just because we "give", just because the family has been "given" a home... does not mean that they know what to do with what they are given.
I took over toys, bikes, educational supplies and some other odds and ends. I took Ben and Kyle with me. And it was all very well received. My little Mentee had friends to play with...and the children has real toys to play with.....I'm tellin' you...the joy that I saw in that moment from the ENTIRE family....will stay with me as a warm spot in my heart forever. But it is not enough to stop here. That moment of joy is passed. They have "more" than what they had before we were there, but they don't have what they need.
Also, let me say that there are some other folks in this town that are helping as well. Really helping in some amazing ways! But the small lot of us is not enough!
And so I am asking, for a few things....For starters - just read this and pass it along. I am not a sales person for donations or help for the needy. I am an information provider. That is all I need to be, because just as I have a calling to help this family....so will someone else. I don't know who it will be, but they know who they are!
Feel no guilt if this is not an area that you choose to participate! Simply passing the word on is the best help you can give! Let's simply get this message into the heart of the right person! That is our job!
Over the next week I will be talking with several people and finding out TRULY....what the needs are for this family. I will be asking THEM - the CARE TAKER - WHAT DO YOU NEED. I know what I hope she says:
Someone to come in a ready to the kids once a week this summer.
A park date each week with peers for the children.
Canned goods full of healthy soup and veggies.
A kitchen table so they can eat as a family.
Help with preschool services for the baby.
Someone to help clean and organize the house.
A phone number of someone who would help them in a bind.
A support group for the care taker so that she always has a shoulder to lean on in a time of trouble.
In fact...I don't know what will come of this. She may say that she wants nothing from anyone. That is very possible.
And if that happens...then I have still accomplished a smaller goal. I have given you all a glimpse into the needs that surround us right here at home. And if we can do more...If someone finds a calling to do more...more for the children....more to help families in poverty to become whole....then I will sleep well. Then maybe that is what I was suppose to accomplish.
Just know that in the next two weeks...I will push to every level that I can with this - please keep this family in your prayers and in your hearts! And stay tuned for more. I don't know what MORE we are talking about...but MORE in one way or another! :)