How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

Guest Blogger and SAUW Board President Joyce Volk

How many times have you or someone else complained about your “hard earned tax dollars” supporting impoverished families?  By golly you work too hard to pay your taxes just to have the government give it to lazy people!

So, we know you’re pretty darned good at complaining about it but what’s your plan to do something about it?

The financial unhealthiness of our community members affects every single one of us. It is a problem that permeates more families than you know. We assume that it only impacts our minimum wage work force.  Suppose your middle class neighbors with the big house and shiny new cars are two paychecks or a job lay-off away from devastation?    

Federal Poverty level numbers for 2015 are pretty stark.  For a family of 2, $15,930 per year.  For a family of 4, $24,250 per year.  Have you ever put a pencil to it? Pull out that Big Chief pad and jot down your basic monthly expenses.  Could you do better in managing this kind of “wealth”?

The Salina Area United Way, community agencies, their volunteers, local businesses and donors stopped complaining and are doing something about it.  It is a big job that requires compassion, organization and resources.  The SAUW is funding collaborative work that is devoted to the task of improving the situations of struggling individuals in so many areas – career training, money management, and making good life choices.  Many impoverished families seem to never get ahead.  They start making some headway and then a car repair bill or medical emergency blows them off course.  They just need a stiff breeze to get them over this wave and continue on to calmer water.

How big is the problem?  It’s an elephant – 45 million Americans big. US Population is only 318.9 million. But we want to focus on our little neck of the woods. So we extrapolate a bit…let’s just say we are looking at Saline County and using the national numbers.  That’s 7,540 community members living in poverty.  So, let’s focus on improving the situations of 7,540 individuals. It is far easier to envision helping 7,540 individuals than 45 million!

Yea, it’s a big job.  But eating this elephant one bite at a time is the only way to move in a positive direction. Do me a favor, please, before complaining get a little education. Read a book about living in poverty today. Volunteer for a local agency that is educating families on good financial health.  Or, donate to the Salina Area United Way.  If you get educated and involved, I promise you’ll feel empowered to make a difference. Take your first bite.  After you do, only 7,539 bites to go.