A frail, elderly woman struggles to climb the stairs to her apartment. A small child attempts to prepare a meal for her siblings. A young mother, living in a battered car, washes and comforts her tiny child. A young couple scavenges in a filthy dumpster, removing the partially eaten remains of a meal, along with a few slabs of rancid meat. A homeless man pushes a shopping cart which holds his belongings while a group of others sleep on the sidewalk.
These are a few of the highly disturbing images that have begun to appear on television screens across the country; an uncomfortable visual reminder of life for many in the richest country in the world. These images are being brought to you by Volunteers of America, an organization that is trying to do something about the myriad of problems experienced by America’s poor and homeless. They are disturbing enough to make one instinctively want to quickly look away. Don’t.
The national statistics are staggering. In excess of 48 million Americans are going to bed hungry, many of them families with young children. More than 670,000 people are homeless, many of them veterans and single parents. Generally speaking, as a country, the focus upon the needs of our most vulnerable populations begins to intensify after Halloween. ‘The spirit of the season’ becomes the motivating factor behind our giving, whether food or warm blankets, coats and sweaters or Christmas toys. The holiday season may be over, but the desperate need continues.
Volunteers of America, a national nonprofit organization, was founded in 1896. For nearly 117 years, they have been providing for people in need, as well as offering a host of opportunities for both individuals and communities to become involved in helping to provide a wealth of human service programs on the local level. Food and nutritional programs, shelters, transitional housing, elder care and assistance and treatment for the mentally ill, drug addicts and individuals with disabilities are but a few of the on-going programs that Volunteers of America is dedicated to provide.
Use the links above for a view of the Volunteers of America advertisement, as well as a complete overview of this important organization. There is also a locator to identify offices and programs in your geographic area. Don’t look away. As wonderful as the sentiments are, Thanksgiving, Christmas or one national day of service just aren’t enough. For so many, the separation between security and poverty is only one paycheck away.