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2020 Look Ahead

Posted by griffithd on December 28, 2019 at 5:10 PM

For as many years as I can remember, we have traveled the day after Christmas to the Eastern Shore of Maryland to gather as an extended family and hang out. Mom and Dad are no longer with us, but the three brothers, our spouses, and our offspring and spouses and their offspring now number 29. Not everyone makes it every year, but most do.

I am reminded of the blessing of family, and I am mindful just how fortunate it is that we get along, that we care and love each other, and that help is a phone call, and these days now a text away. I am proud of our family and our values and what we all do or have done in the world.

However, these days another thought also comes to mind, no doubt shaped by my work at Episcopal Community Services, where we deal with families and individuals challenged by poverty every day. I have lived my entire life with the safety net that is my family. At times that net has caught me and kept me from the dark places that life can hold.

For many of the individuals we serve, there is no such net. At best, it is limited and individuals facing life with no network of support, no access to opportunity that can lift one to a better experience of economic stability, no family resources to help navigate the journey, no givens that I, and many, take for granted.

For me, the contrast is stark and it is genuine.

The question is what to do if my story sounds familiar to you?

First, understand that your experience of the American dream is unique and frankly not available to many in America. Second that government safety nets keep people alive but maintain an individual’s economic status. Third absent behavioral health and addiction issues the best road out of poverty is a living wage job with benefits. Access to such situations is dependent on stable housing, education and training, and wellness. It is also dependent on access to opportunity and that access is best provided by coaching and mentoring organizations and the business community that understands the value of living-wage jobs and the subsequent impacts on economic growth and a stable professional workforce.

Know that there is a movement in the U.S. that is calling for economic mobility for all Americans. There are many, I included, who see this not as a right or a left issue, but as a national issue that needs to be addressed by us before it consumes us as a society. The data tells us that 15% of Americans live at or below the poverty line. If one measured living wage as the bar, that number approaches 35%. Imagine an economy where 35% of Americans become consumers and the cost of safety nets drops accordingly.

In this season of Peace, Joy, and Hope and with the blessings of family and faith, I am committed in 2020 that we bring momentum to the movement.

Are you?

It starts with joining.

For more on our work. www.ecsphilly.org


Categories: ECS Outreach, Leadership, Muddy Boots

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