The number of people living in poverty in our country increases daily. In Florida alone poverty levels have increased to 23.1% in some of our counties over the past ten years. The group living among us in our community with the highest rate of increase that reached up to 43% in some Florida counties (just in 2009) are children ages 5 to 17.
The Florida Center for Investigative Reporting analyzed data relating to poverty rates, homeless students and subsidized meals for all school districts before the financial crisis began up to and through the 2010-11 school year. The widespread increase in these three poverty indicators paints a picture of a state that has become much poorer after the Great Recession.
In addition to all of these changes, our job markets have shifted tremendously, with very slight rays of light for some, but not enough to impact a family's ability to prevent experiencing homelessness and increased poverty until household income comes in.
Many of our local families are experiencing homelessness, foreclosures, unemployment and underemployment (“the working poor”) for both wage earners in the family. Families are sleeping in cars, tents, shelters and sleezy motels trying to maintain some form of their family structure. While families make major adjustments to meet their daily basic needs, some are not able to adequately prepare for the "unexpected" expenses that we all face. A Grateful Mind Community Outreach, of course cannot unlock the entire grip of poverty single-handedly, but we can try to provide immediate assistance to working families who find themselves overwhelmed by the unexpected as funds are made available to us.
Our Emergency Financial Assistance Program combines an immediate response to crisis with an expectation of personal accountability by the recipient of our assistance to prepare for the avoidance of a future crisis. A crisis is an economic problem resulting from an unexpected event or circumstance beyond the control of the individual, which threatens their ability to maintain the basic necessities of food, shelter, or prescription medications.
Immediate assistance may be provided after the crisis is validated and the client’s ability to solve the problem on their own has been evaluated. As funds are available, assistance may be provided to avoid utility cut-off, to avoid eviction or foreclosure, to avoid loss of heating or cooling during critical seasons or to avoid absence of life sustaining medications.
In each case, clients must demonstrate the ability to maintain or plan for sustainability as part of their responsibility for the assistance provided. As part of their plan for personal responsibility, it is our belief that an individual can begin to prompt positive change in their lives by conditioning the way that they think. A Grateful Mind requires each client attend one of our Self-Sufficiency Seminars (or accept a referral to another community agency for specific counseling or training) in order for us to seize the opportunity to impart positive information into the client’s mind that will equip them in exploring resources that will help them avoid recurring crisis. Will you help a family "prevent" becoming homeless?