"The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials."
The definition of whom or how many qualify as impoverished peoples is hard to identify in relation to income levels.
Simply put, poverty is caused by political and economic influences as well as self-fulfilling prophecies of inequality that tend to keep the poor families poor.
You Are Not Alone
Economic struggles affect us all from time to time: loss of a job, unexpected illness, mortgage interest rates rising, bad spending habits, divorce, addiction, poor investment returns, life events, natural disasters. This does not make you a failure, this makes you human. There is no shame in having less than your neighbors.
Effects of Poverty, Economic Struggles and Hardships:
- Loss of transportation options (ie: no money, no gas, no car)
- Less ability to provide proper, nutritionally balanced meals
- Limiting of social activities
- Difficulty focusing on work/school
- Calls from bill collection agencies
- Utility disconnection
- Strained emotions
How to Help Yourself if You're Facing Poverty and Economic Struggles:
- Look for low-cost or free Community Center activities and/or support groups - they often have drop-in programs for kids
- Explore different faiths in and around your community - many of them offer helpful programs throughout the year (free medical clinics, Christmas baskets)
- Most Health Centers and/or Doctors’ offices have numerous pamphlets giving direction for assistance
- Carpool with co-workers to save transportation costs
- Food co-op baskets (available in most areas; see Additional Resources below)
- Shop at grocery outlet discount stores
- Find ways to cut back on utility expenses: change the setting on the thermostat, seal leaks in windows or doors, turn out the lights when no one is in the room, add an extra blanket at night instead of turning up the heat.
- Contact your local utility company to see if you qualify for one of its free programs to help make your home more energy-efficient.
- Organize a clothing and/or toy swap with other friends and acquaintances who have children. You get to socialize, your kids get different clothes/toys, everybody saves money, and things stay out of the landfill.
- Organize clothing and shoe swap parties with other women. This is a good way to freshen your wardrobe AND socialize without spending money.
- Organize a "block party", pot-luck style. Everybody in the neighborhood gets to eat AND have a good time.
- Use your social networks. Do not be ashamed to ask friends and family for help.
- Barter. If your friend's husband is a mechanic, offer your baby-sitting (or hairdressing or gourmet cooking) skills in exchange for help swapping out your radiator.
- Freecycle and other sites exist to keep things out of landfills. Ride the environmental movement & find free stuff.
Facts and Statistics About Poverty:
Almost half of the world lives in poverty. Of these 3 billion people, 1 billion of them are children.
Poverty does not discriminate against color, age, sex, religion, or ethnic origin.
Poverty increases the cost to sectors such as health care and school systems.
Single parents, and most often single mothers, are the most weighed down by hardship and have the most difficult time rising above economic struggles.
10.4 million US households have low food security (insufficient money or other resources needed to acquire food).
Additional Resources for Poverty, Economic Struggles and Hardship:
Children and Family Programs
Boys & Girls Clubs of America - Many, many programs for kids, including education, fitness, social recreation, bullying prevention, community outreach, childcare, and more.
YMCA - Programs for youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility
YWCA – Provides a wide variety of services for women in need, including, but not limited to: crisis counseling, job training, childcare, health and fitness, nutritional programs, and transitional housing.
CareerOneStop is sponsored by the U. S. Department of Labor,Employment and Training Administration
Service Canada: Offers access to wide range of services in Canada, including employment assistance, government programs, and health care benefits
Dress for Success - provides women who are re-entering the work force with interview-appropriate clothing and shoes, as well as advice on how to ace that interview.
Volunteers of America - provides a variety of services to people in need, including at-risk youth, the elderly, men and women returning from prison, homeless individuals, veterans, people with disabilities and those recovering from addiction.
USA.Gov Directory of Government Benefits, Grants, and Financial Aid - provides links to a variety of benefits, services, and information about government assistance programs
The Salvation Army - provides a wide variety of services, including, but not limited to: housing and homeless services, disaster relief, and meals for the elderly
The Salvation Army – International - provides information about services provided by the Salvation Army worldwide
Help for Moms - Information for single moms on how to find affordable housing, education, food stamps, and other services
Nutritional Assistance Programs
Feeding America National Office: the nation's leading domestic hunger-relief charity. Their mission is to feed America's hungry through a nationwide network of member food banks and engage our country in the fight to end hunger. 1-800-771-2303
Food Banks of Canada - National organization representing and supporting food banks across Canada. 1-877-535-0958
Bountiful Baskets Food Co-op: Available in: AZ, CO, ID, MT, NV, OK, OR, SD, TX, UT, WA, WY
USDA Food & Nutrition Service – Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Food stamps program sponsored by the US Government
USDA Food & Nutrition Service - Women, Infants and Children (WIC) provides supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education for low-income women and their children (up to age 5)
The Global FoodBanking Network - Links to food banks worldwide
Supplemental Income and Health Care Assistance
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) – provides cash to meet basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter for the elderly, blind, or disabled who have little to no income. This is NOT funded by Social Security, but by a tax-payer funded government program.
Social Security Disability Insurance – provides benefits to individuals who have worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes, but are no longer able to work either due to disability or age (67 or above). Also provides benefits to family members (spouse and/or children 18 and younger), as long as the individual worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes.
Medicare - Health insurance for people 65 or older, people under 65 with certain disabilities, people of any age with end-stage renal disease
Medicaid - Free or low-cost health insurance for individuals and families who meet certain income level requirements
Utility Bill Assistance - Information on how to reduce energy costs and links to services by state in the US for assistance with utility bills.
American Consumer Credit Counseling - Non-profit organization that offers confidential consumer credit counseling services, debt management, and financial education to consumers. 1-800-769-3571
Credit Counseling Canada -National association of non-profit credit counseling agencies; provides confidential assistance for individuals and families facing personal financial issues