Thursday, August 1, 2013

End Poverty Schenectady

I remember vividly the morning last fall when I opened the local newspaper to learn that in the city of Schenectady 50.8% of its children live in poverty. Schenectady ranks 13th in the nation for highest childhood poverty rates among cities over 65,000 people. Most of the children in our city live in poverty. Most...of...them. Such is my privilege that biking and driving in and around this city, I did not realize the extent to which this is the experience of most of the children around me. Since then, this has been like a drumbeat for me, always there, reminding me what we are called to do NOW. 

While I believe we have an obligation to be part of solving this problem, I do not believe we have the answers. How could we? The answers come from the ground up. The answers, what to do, comes from working together with those who care in this community. Lots of people care. Importantly we need to work together, rich and poor, all races, all religions, together. This is interfaith work.

Recently I attended  an event by the Schenectady County Human Rights initiative, End Poverty Schenectady. End Poverty Schenectady hosted a panel of youth and young adults from Schenectady to share their insights on poverty. It was very eye-opening. First, I appreciated that End Poverty Schenectady realized the importance of a youth perspective. The youth and young adults talked about a culture of hopelessness that helps create drug dealers and prostitutes at a young age. They talked about how we needed to discus race, because that was part of it. They talked about how much quicker people are to offer sports to low income youth rather than innovative, more academically- oriented programs. End Poverty Schenectady will next meet on Saturday, September 21. They have a Facebook page that has information on their upcoming meeting dates too.

FUSS will host one of their upcoming meetings. I want to encourage all of us to be part of this current conversation at all the meetings. What might we do in this community together?