In our idyllic island communities, where million-dollar homes, parades and pastoral lands are abundant, it’s hard to believe anything bad can happen here — especially poverty.
Often, those in the middle and upper classes do not have daily interactions with people experiencing poverty, making it appear like the problem does not exist.
We are here to reiterate that it does, not just throughout Washington state, but in our own backyards.
Nearly one in three Washingtonians uses services provided by the Washington Department of Social and Health Services, including assistance for food, child care and employment transitions. San Juan County is home to the fifth-highest annual cost of living for a family of three out of Washington’s 39 counties.
Islanders gathered on Nov. 6 to find local ways to help those in need on our fair isles, and across the state. We urge all of our citizens to find a way to help end poverty in our community. Here are a few ways you can make a difference.
• Volunteer at the Severe Weather Shelter at www.signupgenius.com/go/60b0f45aaa72eabf85-severe.
• Donate to the Friday Harbor Food Bank. Learn more at fridayharborfoodbank.weebly.com.
• Help out the Joyce L. Sobel Family Resource Center at sjifrc.org/volunteer.
• Check out other service groups at www.sanjuanisland.org/clubs-groups.htm.
Getting involved in the community is not only helpful, but can illuminate some hard truths about poverty on our islands.
Michael Harrington published a groundbreaking book on national poverty called “The Other America” in 1962. It highlighted that impoverished citizens were living behind the view of the suburban, upper class. This “Other America” still exists today, nearly 57 years later. The book is said to have spurred such resources to decrease national poverty as Medicare, which is a federal insurance for those 65 and older that went into effect in 1966. Ideas generated from the local Nov. 6 meeting could form similar innovations to ensure all Washingtonians have the basic necessities in life. We thank the state for convening the meeting and listening to locals who interact with those struggling on our islands every day. We can all work together to remember our neighbors in need — both during the holidays and beyond — and find the best solutions to help them.
Do you have a story about your fight to end poverty? We would love to hear from you. Email your story to firstname.lastname@example.org.