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Blog Action Day 2008

Written by Lee Micai on October 15, 2008 – 10:52 am -

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Today and tomorrow – depending on where you are in the world – is Blog Action Day 2008.

This year 4M Web Design is participating in Blog Action Day (October 15th) and helping raise awareness about poverty. It’s not too late to register your blog and change the conversation for one day — today!

The story below is about a girl named Jessica who lives in Harts, West Virginia and was featured in Showtime’s documentary What’s Going On? Although Jessica is from West Virginia there are many other stories like hers right in our backyards.

Jesse’s aspirations are not extraordinary. She wants to get good grades, go to school dances, and get into college. Yet these modest goals are nearly impossible against the backdrop of Jessie’s life—a life of hunger, worry and constant sacrifice.

Jessie’s Story

Over 12 million American kids suffer from poverty, and it infects every aspect of their lives—from family relations, to school friendships to dreams for the future. Jesse Staley, a teenager from Harts, West Virginia dreams of graduating from high school and attending prom. While her friends buy prom dresses and arrange after parties, she struggles to feed her sisters and brothers. As other families choose between colleges, hers much choose between medical care and welfare.

As many of her friends live the life a carefree adolescent, Jesse assumes the role of the caretaker in her family. The oldest of three children, she must look after her siblings while her father ekes out a living driving a truck. Her father is a hardworking man, but his 12 to15-hour shifts don’t provide enough income to pay the bills. She begins her days early, after her father leaves for work. She wakes up her brother and sister, feeds them and sends them to school. After attending classes all day, she fixes dinner, helps her siblings with class assignments and puts them to bed–all before starting her own homework.

Although the family isn’t homeless, they have only $120 each month to buy food. Often, there isn’t enough to last the month, so Jessie is forced to turn to charities like Save the Children for help. Her family suffers from the constant struggle to make ends meet. For example, choosing inexpensive over healthy foods has hurt the family’s health; Jessie’s father has a heart condition and struggles against obesity–the result of high fat, processed foods that so frequently make up a low-income diet.

Jessie’s dream of going to college is tempered by fears that her father will need her close to home, especially as he faces growing health problems. It’s a sad fact that in America, where there is no universal health coverage, many families face the same terrible choice as Jessie’s father between working for a living without health insurance or taking welfare in order to receive state-provided medical care.

The Hidden Face of Poverty

Poverty in America has many faces. But the story of Jessie’s family is way more common than many more fortunate people care to realize.

They are not drug addicts.
They are not mentally ill.
They are not lazy.

What they are is one bad break from being out on the streets.

Even worse, they can’t break the cycle.

Consider this: Jessie has more responsibility and works harder as a teen than many twice her age. And Jessie’s father puts in more hours at work than most people in this country.

Hard work is clearly not the issue. If hard work is all it takes, why do so many kids end up stuck in the same vicious cycle as their exceptionally hard-working parents and grandparents?

There’s clearly something missing.

What can you do to make a difference?

Many organizations work with poor families in and around the Mercer County, NJ area, one being the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen or TASK.

Having a close connection to the director, I’m his son for those who may not know us personally, I was asked to help them improve their web site and provide technical input on how to efficiently use the internet. To be honest I had no idea what a soup kitchen did until I started working with them. I thought they just served soup!

At TASK, their primary mission is to provide meals to all those who are hungry. Everyone is welcomed into the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen. No questions are asked.

Every week of the year, volunteers help the TASK staff serve more than 3,000 meals.

They also offer an Adult Education Program which provides one-on-one tutoring in basic literacy, math, GED preparation, and computer skills, they support self-sufficiency and improve quality of life by providing a full-time, on-site social worker, Medical services, Legal services, Telephone, mail, fax and message services, Hygiene bags, Arts & Ideas and Kids’ Time.

What will you give today?

Right now TASK is in desperate need of food donations due to the increasing number of people coming to for a meal. Delivery hours are Monday through Friday from 8:00am to 5:00pm and Friday from 8:00am to 1:00pm. TASK is located at 72-1/2 Escher Street in Trenton, NJ.

You may also choose to make a monetary donation or volunteer to help prepare, serve and clean up meals or to tutor in the adult education program.

If there are companies out there that would like to make a more substantial donation, I’ll be more than happy to recognize you for it in a follow-up post. Send me email with the details.

If we all work together to help the less fortunate, we might be able to realize a quote my father said, “At some point in time, I’d like to put TASK out of business.”.

Thanks for your time…

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