Love your neighbor.

Bernie on a Journey - Part 22 - December 20, 2019

12-23-2019

This week’s vlog is a thank you message, please click below!

 

In a season of abundance, it is easy to be jolly, but the holidays can seem much more bleak for those on the margins of society and those who are struggling- whatever their struggle may be. Spending the last six months researching neighborhoods, poverty, development and engagement has made me look at my holidays a bit differently. It tempers my joy a bit to think of the people I’ve met who are struggling this Christmas. I spend my days researching programs, resources and tactics to help people, and better understand the situations they are going through. But it’s not until I meet people or hear their stories, or experience a struggle that I can comprehend the pain of being under-resourced. 

For a holiday giving drive, I went to buy a coat for a 7 year old and found out that the coat was $70. I was shocked, and I immediately thought of how difficult it would be to have kids constantly outgrowing coats when money is tight. It was eye opening- it helped me to realize that while I know facts about poverty, the reality of it, and the related pain and embarrassment are still foreign to me. 

A friend of mine recently learned about the concept of ‘Asset Limited Income Constrained Employed’ (ALICE) families and how prevalent they are in Fort Wayne - 1 family out of every 4 families in Allen County is considered in the ALICE range (https://www.unitedwayallencounty.org/uploads/page/ALICE_Report_/2018_Allen_County_ALICE_One-Pager.pdf). 

1 out of every 3 Allen County residents lives in a designated food desert (file:///Users/mac/Downloads/2018_VPSExecutiveSummary.pdf). 

These statistics remind me that there are many people who seem to be getting by, who are really struggling and live one small emergency away from dire straits.

I share these statistics because I realized that just because I stop looking at a problem or social issue doesn’t mean it is solved or that it is getting any better. This realization helped me to reorient my holidays. I made sure to look for ways I could give back and limit consumption. Little steps help make things better on a large scale.

Last week, I attended the Fort Wayne Area Planning Council on Homelessness quarterly meeting. Since NeighborLink serves primarily homeowners, it may seem odd that I decided to attend. However, we sometimes have to deal with situations where homes are close to being condemned or homeowners in some other way are removed from their house. The meeting was highly informative, and gave me a new appreciation for all the dedicated people throughout Fort Wayne who are working to make people’s lives better, whether by defeating food deserts, running shelters, or providing resources to those in need. 

The meeting on homelessness also made the case that the work of NeighborLink is imperative - because keeping people in their homes is always preferable to people ending up on the streets. NeighborLink plays a crucial part in neighborhood stabilization, solving one issue at a time, house by house. Please consider making a donation during this holiday season or serving with your family as part of your holiday celebrations. Giving hope is quite possibly the best gift we can give this holiday. 

I am doing a project, too, this holiday season. I am running to raise funds for a family friend who has no resources and is in need of a new roof. For every $25, I will run 1 mile. So far, I have to run 23 miles, and I’m not a runner! But, I know that when I give of myself, it encourages others to do the same. If you would like to support this fundraiser and make me run some more miles, check out the fundraising page at https://www.facebook.com/donate/912624199133739/

I hope you have a very merry holiday season, and whether it is an abundant season or not, my wish is that it is a hopeful and joyful time. Thank you all for your support of NeighborLink! With your help, we’ve done so much good in 2019, and for 2020 there is still more good to do!