Thursday, September 22, 2016

We're #2

On my way home one day this week I witnessed something that I had only seen on TV shows, in movies or read about in magazines:

a person going through a dumpster.

It really stunned me, probably somewhat because it came in the same week that our newspaper, the Erie Times News carried its annual story on poverty rates in the city of Erie. Yes, we're #2 in Pennsylvania with the city's poverty rate 26.9% behind only Reading, PA. This is calculated as the people or families living below the government-defined poverty line, which for a family of four is less than $24,300 annually.

The heartbreak continued when I read the age breakdowns: 38% of city children below 18 live in poverty; for those below age 5 it's 50%. And for seniors 65 and older 1 out of every 8 is poor. All this can be summarized by one number: Over 25,000 human beings in the city of Erie are poor.

If you know our community you would tell me that we are doing much in this area, and you would be right. Communally we do quite a bit: soup kitchen, day care, low income housing, job training and placement, after school options for children. But, what am I as an individual doing? That is the question that is haunting me this week ever since I took this picture. I am determined to find something more, just for myself, one individual.