Need Knows No Season…
The table’s been set, the relatives are on their way, let the holidays begin! Along with the cooking, shopping and parties associated with this time of year, many of us feel a strong desire to help those less fortunate. It is, as they say, better to give than to receive.
We saw that community spirit of giving on November 9, when residents of our region participated in the first ever Give to the Max Day, raising $2 million for local nonprofits.
As President of The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, I am acutely aware of the overwhelming need in our community–every day. We are living in a time of profound economic uncertainty. According to a 2011 report from the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, children represent an alarming 27 percent of the region’s homeless population. The Capital Area Food Bank reports more than 641,000 residents of the Washington region are experiencing or at risk of hunger, including more than 100,000 in Fairfax County alone. This is the same Fairfax County that ranks second nationally for highest median household income and yet is facing the same challenges as the rest of the region and the country.
Across the river, one in four homeowners living in Prince George’s County are behind in their mortgage payments. The situation is so dire that housing counselors who work with homeowners recently participated in a suicide-prevention training to deal with the most distraught homeowners.
Our local nonprofits depend on the support that comes during the giving season. And while many donors view the holidays as the time of greatest need for people living in poverty, our neighbors need us all year long. Foreclosures and hunger know no season.
With the first snow storm, we must support hypothermia shelters that shield our homeless brothers and sisters from the harshest winter months. In the spring, let’s remember the region’s free clinics that provide uninsured families with inhalers and allergy medications that can mean the difference between life and death.
While it is particularly awful to face the prospect of eviction in the winter cold, it is equally bad in the brutal heat of a D.C. summer. And let’s not forget about children who receive free or reduced lunches during the school year. Backpacks provided by local nonprofits and filled with healthy food mean our children won’t go to bed hungry winter, spring, summer or fall. Those same children depend on us for warm coats as the days grow shorter and the nights grow colder.
As 2012 approaches, we must renew our commitment to our neighbors in need. Please join The Community Foundation in strengthening the local safety net. This month, next month, throughout 2012 and beyond.