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Did you know that January is Poverty Awareness Month? Neither did I until I heard my friend (who is a Catholic nun) speaking about it this week. So, as I sit here in my overly comfortable home with too much of everything, I’m planning how I can do a better job helping those “in need” this year. And I thought bringing awareness to others just might be a good place to start.
The word poverty is typically associated with lack of fiscal resources. In fact, the US Census Bureau defines levels of poverty by total family money income before taxes. And that is a critical and useful metric for those in need of assistance, but that definition does not go far enough into the broader meaning of poverty.
I think about poverty from a holistic approach. So, poverty can be a lack of anything necessary to thrive: food, water, money (means of support), resources, and physical or mental health. In this definition, anyone who doesn’t have access to the common necessities to live is considered poor and vulnerable. I also believe that lack of social support and human contact is another form of poverty. Look at this quote by Mother Theresa and see if you agree:
The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.
–Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Albanian born Indian Missionary and Founder of the Order of the Missionaries of Charity
So with my broad definition, and after seeing Mother Theresa’s quote, we can all see that poverty can be found ANYWHERE. Even in our own homes.
When I heard that January is National Poverty Awareness Month, I decided to kick my own contributions to this cause up a notch. If I hadn’t heard Sister Ellen speak about this, I wouldn’t have been motivated to be more aware. So, I did some research and found that during National Poverty in America Awareness Month, non-profit organizations, businesses, social media sites (even like MadMikesAmerica), and individuals alike are encouraged to come together to combat poverty.
What are some things you can do?
46.2 Million Americans live in poverty.
4.2 million people living with a disability are in poverty.
1.6 Million children in America stayed in a shelter last year.
One in every 5 children in America live in poverty. The US Child Poverty level is the second highest among developed nations.
The poverty rate for single-parent families with no husband present is over 31%.
The senior poverty rate is 15.9% higher than the overall poverty rate.
The highest poverty rate by race is found among Blacks (27.4%), with Hispanics (of any race) having the second highest poverty rate (26.6%). Whites had a poverty rate of 13.0%, while Asians had the lowest poverty rate at 12.1%.
And this is just in America. Imagine how the numbers compound when we look at poverty in the world!
I think these facts show that awareness and action are critical. There’s no better way to start off our new year than helping someone in need.
So, if you are also ready to make a difference and get involved, remember: