I am troubled by the statistic that now between 1 million and 1.6 million school children (K-12) are homeless in the US, for the first time ever. Most of these children’s parents are working full-time.
I am also troubled by the fact I am literally a single paycheck and a handful of supportive connections away from homelessness, while I work full-time.
About 1 in 7 Americans rely on food banks to have enough to eat, yet according to Reuters (11/21/2012), the worst drought in 50 years is impacting food banks across the US.
Various numbers look to the economic picture improving, but in the meantime, really huge numbers of people are living in extreme anxiety.
- Music Despite Budget Cuts: This week I was inspired by attending my child’s school district music concert for several stellar middle school and high school bands. Despite deep cuts in the outstanding program (1st place in 2012 at Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival), some very devoted public school teachers, private music teachers, and parents make it possible for our community’s children to be renaissance kids. To make music AND be an athlete or a writer or a dancer. I was very moved that while the high school chorus was completely cut from the curriculum budget this year, a group of students and director (an English teacher) are staying after a long school day voluntarily to sing together, and they performed beautifully.
- A group called Work Reimagined on LinkedIn has a hopeful tone while making me aware of just how many professional middle-aged folks are affected by lay-offs after decades-long careers, declining wages meeting rising costs of living (my situation), lengthy bouts of unemployment, and talented, highly qualified people with lots to give desperately searching for something sustainable.
- Living Documentary: I see in shared personal stories valuable journalism about living in what feels like a pivotal time for change similar in scope to the Great Depression, only with more infrastructure and safety nets in place making poverty more palatable. A friend reminded me another difference between employment now and the Great Depression is licensing and certifications are more important. Being able to do the job isn’t as important as being able to pass a test. This idea as applied to veterans was keenly illustrated by Jon Stewart (10/24/2012) in his look at military personnel who saved many people’s lives in combat yet were “unhireable” in a medical facility without a 2-year education program or extensive and expensive testing.
- Display Ourselves Online: One woman on Work Reimagined pointed out we are all competing for our children’s and grandchildren’s jobs, so we had better have a website that can portray ourselves and our work better than they can (and she did create a powerful website). Since most business is done online now (about 80% of the whole market), if you are less skilled or underfunded to create a flashy web presence but still have something of value to provide humanity, good luck. I would love to think there is still work for the determined person who wants to show up everyday and contribute to a team by listening to others and meeting people eye to eye, but I will not hold my breath.
- Ask for Help: I am finally learning to ask for help when I need it, and my asking has been met with positive response in the form of a subsidized counseling program allowing me to get low-fee help with the emotions created by all the stress of these days (Counseling Connections), and a touching birthday gift of a “support circle” by my nuclear family.
- Last Inspirations of the Week: A fabulous cup of tea created by a friend, and a flavorful lentil barley soup made in my Crockpot with items from the food bank. You don’t need to be wealthy to live well. May we all live well by helping one another see the bounty before us and allow ourselves to receive.
“The eradication of poverty definitely is the way to peace.” ~ Yusuf Islam