The day after Thanksgiving, many people are recovering from a day of eating well. And today, many people will head out to shop, the beginning of the holiday season. It’s a time folks will spend on gifts for others.
That is good. We certainly don’t begrudge anyone having a good time and enjoying time with family and friends and supporting the many fine local businesses here. We encourage it.
But we do ask, during all this festive time with family and friends, we hope you remember those who go without and, perhaps, help them as well. In Hawaii, a recent 2018 count found 6,530 homeless individuals across Hawaii compared with 7,220 in 2017. On Kauai, a recent homeless count was about 450 to 500.
It’s not just the homeless who struggle. It’s the working moms and dads who try to hold down two and even three jobs to keep the bills paid. It’s the family trying to keep a roof over their head and scraping by on minimum wage. It’s the single person who goes to college while working at the same time and paying the electric bill at home.
Those who could use our help are all around us. We just don’t often see them. We don’t notice them. We don’t even know them.
Perhaps we should.
Consider that hunger and homelessness are widespread problems that affect many people.
In the United States:
• Many Americans are living on the edge, forced to choose between basic necessities like purchasing food, paying rent, or going to the doctor.
• 43.1 million Americans live below the poverty level;
• 549,000 Americans are homeless on a typical night;
• 42 million Americans are at risk of suffering from hunger;
• 1 in 5 children in the U.S. live in poverty.
• While there has been slow but steady progress over the past 30 years, there are still a tremendous number of people around the world who live in extreme poverty;.
• 795 million people do not have enough to eat;
• 767 million people live on $1.90 a day or less;
• Six children die each minute of a hunger-related disease;
• 65.3 million refugees have been driven out of their homes.
That’s a lot of people without food, without money, without a roof over their heads.
This year’s Homeless Awareness Conference, themed “Pu Kakou I Ikaika” – Together We Are Stronger” — was held Nov. 16 at the KROC Center in Kapolei.
The conference was a unique opportunity for the entire community — from front line service providers to business owners and landlords — to come together and collaboratively address the challenges faced by those experiencing homelessness, and to create a coordinated response.
It’s unlikely any from Kauai were at this conference. But it does lead up to the question of what we can do to win this battle many face with hunger and homelessness.
Now, some will argue, we should do nothing. The more you provide for the homeless, the more you help them, the less incentive they have to pull themselves up and make it on their own. They will argue it’s not the government’s job, at least not this government’s, to take care of everyone.
And there are those who will argue those with much should do more for those with little; that those who have money and resources should be generous and contribute to those who struggle to survive just to have a morning meal.
You’ll have to decide for yourself.
The conference offered this information on answering the question, “What you can do?” It seems like sound advice.
• Host an event — bring Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week to your community;
• Volunteer — search for an awareness week near you and find out how to get involved;
• Donate — make a gift to support year-round work to end hunger and homelessness.
“As a society, we have the resources and knowledge to end hunger and homelessness — we just need the collective will to make these ideas a reality,” was a statement from the conference.
Please be aware there are many who have little and struggle over the holidays. If you can help them, please do.