Recently a friend of mine retired after many years of work. I decided to send him a nice big plant for his home. A few days later, my friend noted that the plant arrived and was delivered by a lady who was transporting the plant for the florist in her own car. My friend talked with this woman and found out the lady was let go from her previous job due to her age. She was waitressing at a restaurant where she made good money. She had just turned 70.
We’re currently living through a period where language is coarser and attitudes are more hardened. There is little conversation about a kind, compassionate society. Rather, the verbiage is being tough and rigid. Migrant children are separated from their parents at the border, and face a good likelihood that they will not be reunited with their parental caretakers.
Government officials engage in extravagant expenditures at taxpayer’s expense and flaunt great conflicts of interest. Corporate interest, particularly tax incentives, are vigorously pursued as opposed to actions that would benefit the lives of average citizens.
School districts are struggling with finance systems, overcrowding, decrepit buildings. Poverty is increasing ,and its effects are causing challenges for students who want to learn.
According to a recent article, some schools are converting office space to provide services like food banks and clothing stations in order to assist needy students.
“ Student poverty rates in Vancouver, WA Public Schools rose from about a third of all students in 2005 to more than half in 2015. District officials responded by hiring coordinators who work at 18 high-poverty schools and connect low-income students and families to agencies and services that provide basic needs, like food, medical care and stable housing.” (As need soars, schools rally behind families in … – The Seattle Timeshttps://www.seattletimes.com/…/as-need-soars-schools-rally-behind-families-in-vancouve
Half of the schools in the Vancouver, WA school district have been transformed into one-stop assistance center for poor students and their families. The assistance provided by these centers is a critical lifeline for students and families who are experiencing homelessness, along with insecure employment and income.
Per the article, two out of three students at Hazel Dell Elementary School live in poverty.
During the last school year, Family-Community Resource Centers in Vancouver provided:
•89 families with utility assistance
•490 housing referrals
•65 employment referrals
•21,600 weekend food bags
•100,000 pounds of food at pop-up pantries
•2,033 thrift store vouchers (totaling $40,660)
•579 grocery store gift cards (totaling $14,475)
•76 health referrals
•655 on-site dental van visits at 16 schools
Source: Vancouver Public Schools
( Ibid )
These statistics raise serious questions regarding how we treat children in our society; how we view, care and support for families and what are the ramifications of chronic poverty for communities.
Our national priorities presently surround tax cuts, generating more gross national product (GNP ) productivity, low employment and economic prosperity. These goals are all highly desirable, but the presence of continued generational poverty is a challenge to the vision of economic benefits for all.
Continued cuts to health care, finance, education and food assistance, i.e. SNAP funding, etc., will not be a winning recipe for healthy communities. Encouraging people to work will not happen if there are no jobs supported by a feasible economic infrastructure.
“Whatever you do unto the least of these my brothers and sisters, you do unto me. “ ( Matthew 25: 40-45 )
It’s not tender how we are treating those who are in need.
We can and must do better.
The moral character of our lives as people of faith demands compassion and charity for those who are in need.
May it be so.