A Message From Crisis Assistance: Our Neighbors Experiencing Poverty

by LeDayne McLeese Polaski / 31 December 2019 / No Comments

Meck Min Thanksgiving 2019

Good evening. It’s always an honor for Crisis Assistance Ministry to be part of this special service.

For too many Charlotteans experiencing poverty, worry about where their next meal will come from, or how they’ll make rent, hangs over the holiday season.

People like Robert. After 23 years on the job, he suffered a series of injuries that required costly surgeries and long recovery times. He couldn’t work. Then he was furloughed. 

Soon, Robert was driving for rideshare companies, running through his savings, and trying everything to keep up with regular bills, medical needs, and all the little demands of life.

He managed to scrape together most of his past due rent, but his landlord refused to accept partial payment and threatened eviction proceedings.

He just didn’t know what to do next. He always thought of assistance agencies as for “other people.” He didn’t even know where to go or who to ask for help, even after he realized he couldn’t do it all himself.

In his words, “I was frustrated and angry that I honestly didn’t think I could go on anymore. I lost faith in everyone and everything. I was done.”

Fortunately, a friend suggested Crisis Assistance Ministry.  But without these and other safety nets in the community, Robert and many others like him would fall into homelessness and despair.

36% of Mecklenburg County households are liquid asset poor, meaning they don’t have enough cash or liquid assets to survive for 3 months without income. That number jumps to 53% for households of color, which we know stems from system inequities that still exist today.

Brian Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, says that “the opposite of poverty isn’t wealth.  The opposite of poverty is justice.”

Bringing wholeness, making things right, is at the heart of God’s justice.  And certainly, ensuring people’s basic needs, such as housing, clothing and food are met, and they’re able to live with dignity, is an act of justice.

But isn’t it our duty, as people of faith, to do more than that?

Making things right also means that everyone in our community has an equal chance at economic success.  It means that having a nest egg should not just be for the rich.  Every member of our society should be able to survive a financial emergency or make an investment in their future, no matter where they start in life.

Thank you for your offering tonight in support of the hundreds of families who seek help with their basic needs and hope for a better future at Crisis Assistance Ministry and for the important work of our longtime partners at MeckMIN. 

About the author:

LeDayne McLeese Polaski