“Our aim is not only to relieve the symptoms of poverty, but to cure it and, above all, to prevent it.”
Lyndon B. Johnson, 1964 State of the Union Address
January marked the 52th year since President Johnson declared what we know today as the “War on Poverty.” In which the battle cry before Congress was, “Let this be the session”. The goal was to help those in poverty and those unemployed. So after fifty-two years, where are we as a nation?
As a nation, we are still in the fight. We still have a battle cry of “let this be the year”, “Let this be the generation”. Change is happening all around us, some good and some not so much. In terms of poverty, every day, individuals are making decisions for their families in order to get by; stereotypes have been formulated that falsely represent these individuals.
While the bigger picture of eliminating poverty may seem daunting to some, to others it spurs them on to action. The causes of poverty are so diverse and individualized at times that it may be impossible to help all people though ONE means. This is why I love meeting people, to hear their stories. The bigger picture of poverty is that is affects not just financial stability, but various other aspects as well. Though listening to people’s stories, we see past the money, to the person making decisions in order to survive.
So, let our battle cry be, “Let this be the Person” and reach out to those around us. While the Nation is still unclear on how to best eliminate poverty, it is vital that we see those that need our help all around us. As Johnson said, “The war against poverty will not be won here in Washington. It must be won in the field, in every private home, in every public office, from the courthouse to the White House.”
After 52 years, we are still working towards the absence of poverty, but it is refreshing to see people wanting to step up and help. It is life-changing to work one-on-one with people who are trying to support families and meet bills, get food, etc. Many times we reach out to help and end up being the one who needs the encouragement and support. So I encourage you to reach out to those around you that may need help and build community, listen to their stories, laugh, cry, and above all…be willing to “be the person” who cares.
As a program that has been around since 1965 designed to fight poverty VISTA allows hundreds of individuals the opportunity to help others and to hear individual’s stories. I want to help those in my communities that need me. I am grateful that I am working at a place that reaches out to the youth in Jefferson County, especially those that need it most. I am grateful to be surrounded with likeminded individual that also want to reach out to others.