By: Nicole Chedraoui and JoAnn Snavely
The Big Issue
No matter which corner of the world you live in, one thing rings true: poverty is plaguing the world. Although this is an extremely widespread issue, Raleigh is hit hard yearly by it with 1 out of every 7 residents being poverty stricken. Ex-Herald staffers Nicole Chedraoui and JoAnn Snavely decided to make it count and promote local public policies for their FCCLA Star Event in order to spread local awareness that can address poverty on a global scale.
Four Pillars of Poverty
First, we began by addressing the four biggest issues regarding poverty (in our opinion) which were: homelessness, hunger, clothing, and domestic abuse.
Homelessness is an ever growing issue in the Raleigh community with homelessness increasing by 8% each year. This can be greatly attributed to the fact that affordable housing is becoming harder and harder to find with the loss of around 400-550 affordable homes yearly. Many students are homeless in our local community with over 4,300 Wake County students being homeless, and that’s not including those who are going unreported. These staggering numbers don’t include the many Raleigh residents at risk of homelessness, with that number teetering on the edge of 100,000 people. Homelessness leaves people without a home and often without a safe, secure place to stay in dire times of need such as the past few years with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hunger is another extreme issue in Raleigh and surrounding areas. In the Wake County area, around 18% of families enrolled in the WCPSS school system live in food insecurity. Only 61% of those children are receiving free or reduced lunches/breakfasts during the school year and an even lower 14% are receiving meals during summer breaks. Meaning that thousands of students are going hungry and without meals or lack resources to receive the food that they need. Beyond just children in the school system, many infants and toddlers who are below the schooling age and those above the schooling level are being unaccounted for which could lead to even more staggering numbers.
As with everything in the nation since COVID, clothing prices have been rising after having risen 4.2% since August 2021 alone. Although there are many charities like the local Note in the Pocket of Wake County who help provide mini-wardrobes to those in need, many people aren’t aware of those resources or simply don’t have access to them.
Domestic Abuse, although an issue not directly correlated to poverty, can have a disastrous effect in impoverished homes. Poverty is a predetermined factor because it is a primary driver in the continuation of an assailant having power and control over a survivor of domestic violence. It is also important to note that children living in poverty are 22x more likely to suffer from child abuse. Whether it’s a lack of awareness or lack of resources to help rescue those in domestic violence, it is still a major issue that can be accredited to poverty.
Our Public Policy and What You Can Do
The public policy we are working off of is a local policy called Wake Network of Care– which is based in Wake County and is a group of organizations that work together to support those in poverty. We have decided to take the already great program and elevate it more by creating a comprehensive list of steps on how to help, educate, and get those facing poverty back on their feet. Our policy has three goals which are to Help, Educate, and Rehabilitate;
It is important to address the issue at hand and search for solutions that allow you to help. It’s important to find those in need and speak with them, identify their needs and work with them to help their well-being. Ultimately, as a community we need to take action! Make it Count! Go to the facilities, and do what you can.
It is almost impossible to help or rehabilitate without educating people on how to be aware of poverty, how to spot it, and, furthermore, prevent it. This can be accomplished on a school-wide level by setting up formal meetings with teachers to help train them on recognizing the warning signs of those affected. On a more community-wide level, change can be made by setting up programs like the one we’re outlining to educate community members and community leaders on how to impact and help those in poverty. Finally, the most impactful thing a community can do is find those in need and speak with them, identify their needs and work with them to help their well-being
The most important and meaningful step is rehabilitation; by helping heal and support those in poverty, we can help secure their futures forever. We do this by developing efficient systems to identify those struggling silently, as well as partnering with poverty prevention non-profits. We can help secure those in poverty by helping provide those stricken by poverty with jobs, homes, and other things to help keep them on their feet. Finally, the most crucial thing is to remember they’re humans–poverty takes a toll on people, acknowledge that and help them through the many mental and physical struggles that accompany it.
How We’re Making It Count
We’ve been doing some measurable things to help make it count and continue the fight against poverty. This year, we addressed homelessness by sewing face masks and selling them within our school to raise hundreds of dollars for CASA- a local nonprofit organization that provides affordable housing to those in need. We addressed the need for hunger by donating food and joining as volunteers at the Raleigh Rise Against Hunger non-profit organization where we plan to help package food, which will later be distributed to those around the Raleigh Area. We addressed the need for clothing this year by working with the 2nd annual FCCLA Clothing Drive. This effort was made in collaboration with Note in The Pocket of Wake county, where we donated pounds and pounds of warm winter clothing for those in need. Domestic abuse is a topic JoAnn Snavely has been addressing for quite some time. Last year, she participated in the Public Policy competition at FCCLA where she placed as a silver winner. She developed a 3-step plan to educate, prevent, and heal those affected by child abuse. In doing this, she advocated for the many heartbreaking aspects of child abuse and, by default, domestic abuse.
How You Can Help:
Aside from following those steps, there are many ways YOU can help. With homelessness, you can research local affordable-housing relief centers in your area, and spread the word of their cause. Any money donations to these non profits, such as CASA, go SUCH a long way. Visits to centers and donations to programs such as the Salvation Army are also always welcome. Addressing the need for hunger can be one of the easier ways you can help. Do some research on local food pantries and non-profit hunger establishments in your local area. Spending as little as 30 minutes to your local Salvation Army could even make an impact. Food packaging, money donations, and food donations are all so important. The need for clothing is another simple way you can help. Find local charities and local needs and contribute to it where you can. Instead of throwing away clothing , donate to a local Salvation Army, homeless shelter, or Goodwill to provide affordable, if not free, clothing to those in need. Tackling an issue as large as domestic abuse may be difficult, but by finding local programs that target domestic abuse or by following JoAnn’s public policy are some effective ways you can help. There is always a way you can help, speaking to public leaders, teachers, parents, and those in need.
Our Leave Behind:
America is facing more than one pandemic right now, and the second one is poverty. In Raleigh and surrounding areas, homelessness, hunger, domestic abuse, and clothing insecurity are big issues of need in the community with 1 out of 7 Raleigh residents effected. Our goal is to work with other charities to help on the sidelines, but to also help, educate, and rehabilitate those impacted by the four pillars of poverty. Can you help us help millions of people impacted by Poverty by supporting our public policy?