Forget Hollywood A-Listers African Relief - American's Living In Third World Conditions On Our Own Streets Need Your Help
By Rhonda Hackett, PsyD, MBA
America is the most "kind and giving" nation on the planet. Each year Americans give more than $240 billion to the more than 700,000 charities that solicit your donations. From the disastrous Tsunami that hit the Pacific Rim and Southeast Asia in late December 2004, to the havoc of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma, that devastated millions last year, Americans dug deep to support local, regional, national and international relief efforts, likely resulting in record donation numbers.
"As a nation we must accept and understand the grim reality that millions of our own citizens, including helpless children, live in the equivalent of third world conditions, and that despite our incredible giving efforts, this travesty worsens each year," says Dr. Hackett, a humanitarian who has directly helped more than 100,000 in need.
Her new book, "Making A Difference: Changing the World One Penny and One Minute at a Time", includes the stories of individuals living in poverty, practical ideas anyone can use to find those in need in their own backyards as well as hundreds of inexpensive, time efficient, and powerful ways to help. She recommends familiarizing yourself with your community's statistics; rate of homelessness, number of seniors and children living in poverty, etc; and determining which agencies exist to help them. From there, Dr. Hackett suggests you call up those agencies to find out more ways to help beyond blindly writing a check to charity. Among some of the simplest yet most powerful ways to help Dr. Hackett says:
* Getting clean and dry socks on the feet of homeless people can greatly reduce foot disease and injury, one of the most common health concerns they experience.
* Collecting fruit that is about to be discarded by your local supermarket and donating it to a soup kitchen, that can rarely afford to offer such nutrition to patrons, can enhance the diet of a poverty stricken child
* Assembling toiletry packets, a practice that is in vogue when international tragedies hit, and getting them to low income schools, can help our own children and teens enjoy the simple luxury of a bath.
An important part of Dr. Hackett's message addresses our need to realize that until we face the fact that we must help our own before we can truly impact the entire world, need will continue to rise both on the home front and abroad.
"To make true change, we must take care of those in our own backyards first," she emphasizes. "Certainly as a nation we want to reach out to the world, but how can we in all good conscious do that and ignore the plight of millions here in our own land? Surely the socially conscious members of Hollywood agree that an American child forced to scrounge for food is every bit as deserving of our help as one living in Africa."
Dr. Hackett suggests choosing one or more groups that desperately need every bit of help imaginable. Included are: Helping seniors living in poverty; reaching out to the homeless; feeding the hungry through soup kitchens, food pantries and sandwich lines; shining your light at low-income day-care centers and schools; and meeting the special needs of women and children residing in domestic violence shelters.
"Each one of us can help in many ways," she says. "Everyone should have their own individualized 'Make a Difference' plan that focuses your efforts in your own community first. This will help you understand your 'need,' and ultimately lead you to create the personal success and satisfaction you crave regarding your place in the world, and ultimately toward making a difference in your community--your world--that is well placed and successful!"
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Rhonda Hackett, PsyD, MBA
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