My recent post entitled 'We Are The 99 Percent' was very difficult for me to write. It was hard to log onto the '99' website and read story after heart wrenching story about the struggles we are facing in America...it was even harder to realize just how many of these stories could be mine, if just one situation changed. If I lost my family support...if I lost my job...if I lost the ability to work the part-time hours I currently work. So many people in this country, including myself, face that stress everyday...the stress of what could happen. One part of my brain tells me just how lucky I am--for I am warm, with clothes on my back and food in my fridge, and I have the support of family and friends. And the other part of my brain reminds me of the 'maybees' that could happen at any time. These opposing sides like to debate every so often, when things are too quiet or I am trying desperately to drop off into sleep.
So why am I bringing this up again? Because this can't be the end of it--there has to be MORE. It can't stop with one post, or one visit to a disturbing website...it's not something to be shared once and forgotten about. It can't be the only thing to focus on either, as it is important to have balance. I know this, and continue to work on other projects such as raising CMT awareness, and helping to prepare for the Art De Cure gallery opening (to benefit the CMTA) on December 2nd. And I have also been trying to BREATHE once in a while, and do something just for the sake of doing it--such as travelling to Schroon Lake and taking pictures of the leaves. No one really benefits from that activity except for me, but that's okay...sometimes you need to do things just to make yourself happy.
But it is unavoidable...my brain likes to travel just as much as the rest of me, and soon enough I find myself immersed within the stress again. Thinking about everything I've learned, and thinking about the 'maybees'. It kind of explains my addiction to television, right? It does help to distract me! Though when I can no longer be distracted, I start thinking about what else I could be doing. Sometimes I get nowhere...and once in a while, if I'm lucky, I come up with an idea. And so I started thinking the other day about all of those stories I read, and I realized the ones that really struck me were written by people who have become homeless because of their struggles in this failing economy. This is a growing issue along with hunger, and one I cannot even imagine...I hope I never learn first hand what living with homelessness is like. So in thinking of this problem, I asked myself the question "What more can I do?" I wish I had the financial resources to eradicate both issues, or at least to make a significant dent...but I don't. Often around the Thanksgiving holidays I'll see a notice in the mail, about an upcoming 'perishable food collection' to help the hungry and homeless, and I always manage to pull something from my cabinets to donate. But once again, I am left with the feeling that it isn't enough.
And so I started thinking about these issues, and logged onto the Internet to search for something else I could do. What I noticed at first kind of struck me as odd. I went to Google (which is the normal search engine I use,) typed in "What can I do about homelessness" and when I typed the 'h' in the word 'homelessness' two possible ideas came up...hot flashes, and hair loss! Luckily I had no need to pause on either concern, and continued to type in the rest of the word...and that's when the ideas ran out. It is obvious that more people have logged onto Google to find ways to control their night sweats and keep what little hair they have left, and I certainly hope they were successful! But I wonder...if the issues of homelessness and hunger in this country are so huge (and I know they are,) why haven't more people looked further into finding an answer?
Thankfully Google did provide me with a few ideas once I hit the 'enter' key, and led me in a few directions. The first site I found which is listed below, is the National Homeless Organization. There are many ways to help the homeless in this country, whether it be through donations or through volunteer work. And for someone like me, who doesn't have the financial resources and may not be physically able to volunteer in places such as soup kitchens and shelters, there are other ideas as well. The first thing the NHO prompts you to do is figure out what you do best, and how you can utilize your talents to help the problem. And through further searching, I found ways I could use my ability to write to aid this issue...the NHO provides legislative alerts and a directory of National Housing and Homeless Organizations, to which you can write letters to your congressmen asking them to make the changes that need to be made. And that is something I can do! One of these organizations on their list may be one you are familiar with...Habitat for Humanity. This is a wonderful group, which not only builds houses for needy families, it does so through the hard work of volunteers working side by side with each receiving family. In reading the background information on how HFH started, I read their mission statement...and realized I couldn't have said it better myself. So I copied the following statement from Habitat's website:
The Fund for Humanity’s mission statement:What the poor need is not charity but capital, not caseworkers but co-workers. And what the rich need is a wise, honorable and just way of divesting themselves of their overabundance. The Fund for Humanity will meet both of these needs. Money for the fund will come from shared gifts by those who feel they have more than they need and from non-interest bearing loans from those who cannot afford to make a gift but who do want to provide working capital for the disinherited . . . The fund will give away no money. It is not a handout.
Habitat for Humanity allows people to put their own sweat and hard work into building the home they so desperately need...giving them pride in their accomplishments, and allowing them to make the home their own. And those of you who (like me) are unable to wield a hammer without crushing something important, can also find several other ways to help. By clicking on [Advocate] and choosing to Send a message to congress now you can find several ways through letter writing campaigns, to tell Obama, Congress and State Leaders how you feel. For instance, you can write a letter to Congress and ask them to support the SLUM Act, which assures that American aid is used for the greater good, and spent wisely to support those in need...and that just supports the people in this country. At this time there are about 2 billion people around the world who live in slums, and approximately 100 million people are homeless. My father who also writes a blog (his link is posted below as well,) talked about the issue of hunger...and at this time in the US alone, there are 3.8 million people who experience hunger on a daily basis. These are NOT small issues, people! They are growing everyday, and with so many in our country who are struggling just to survive, they must be addressed!
Do I believe that writing one letter is enough to eradicate homelessness and hunger? Of course not. Though I also believe that by standing together we can move mountains...and our voices will finally be heard! I have to believe that, for instead of feeling helpless, it places my feet upon a path and gives me something to do to bring positive change. And having this to believe in makes it a little easier to breathe, and helps me sleep a little better. So check out the websites below if you are also looking for more ways to move forward, and help where you can! You may find a wise, honorable and just way to make a difference...now, who could argue with that?