Last night I went to a discussion led by Andrea Silbert, founder of Center of Women & Enterprise and president of the Eos Foundation. She has the talent, education and experience to be making millions on Wall Street but has instead devoted her life to helping people break out of the cycle of poverty. I was especially impressed with Center of Women & Enterprise. It helps women sucessfully start their own business and help keep it successful by giving them the know-how and support they need.
I feel very strongly that the answer to poverty is not to just dole out money but to help people help themselves. Most of the people in poverty today are working at least one full-time job, yet they still can't break out of poverty, even though the desire and work ethic is there. The answer is more education, more assistance, support and know-how that poeple share with them, in addition to giving them the financial support they need to make it. Barbara Ehrenreich's "Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America" is an excellent book describing the challenges faced by the working poor.
Andrea pointed out that children in poverty suffer such toxic stress that by age 5 they are not ready to go to kindergarten and they are constantly behind from their. One of her initiatives is to target children ages 0-5 years and give them the nutrition, mental stimulation and financial security they need to succeed from the very beginning so they can finish high school and go to college.
I am going to look harder for ways I can help others. I saw a woman on the subway today who I assume is homeless. She had her bags on her wheelchair and she was stretched out on 2 or 3 seats sleeping. A subway is a very difficult place to catch come sleep but at least it's warm. Seeing her this morning trying to sleep in a warm place, something I often take for granted, brought home the points we discussed last night.
Two weeks from tonight!
5 days ago