OPINION: ‘Easy’ charity could be a home thing

By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal

With a few clicks on your cell phone, you can send money to help people in Haiti.
You’ve seen the appeals on television, plus the warnings to be careful about which organizations to use as your conduit.
Making this donation has become unbelievably easy. I guess that’s why millions of dollars already are pouring in to such organizations as the American Red Cross.
It’s so easy that it becomes almost personally shameful not to do it.
Haiti’s tragedy started me thinking.
I am not indifferent to the world’s people in need. But it seems incredible that perhaps the world’s wealthiest nation still is home to so many truly impoverished people.
And it seems incredible that we haven’t done enough to eradicate it.
We get all excited about foreign missionary work. It is laudable. But what about home missionary work?
In truth, organizations throughout America are trying to make a difference in the lives of poor people. And even though the U.S. government contributes billions of dollars to improve their lot, money isn’t always the only answer.
It certainly gives me pause to wonder what it will take, in America, to change that. Perhaps too many people do not care.
Perhaps it just seems too big to care about.
The crisis in Haiti has captured the imagination of many people who have made small gifts via text messages to their service companies.
It’s a remarkably easy way to do your part, swell the kitty for help and, frankly, to feel like you’ve done something good.
What if we could channel that approach to help our own poor and needy?
Giving to the United Way, for example, is an approach many people in our region take. It supports many worthy services, some which help the poor.
But it is not totally aimed at that goal.
What if we found a Haiti-relief kind of way to make it easy for thousands of people in Lee County, for example, to make that $10 donation to go directly to lift people out of poverty?
Our community speaks in volumes about promoting education and economic development. We are proud of our schools and seek to make them better. We are proud of building jobs for our people.
But what kind of place would this be if we had virtually no poor people? If everyone had a basic economic opportunity for a better life?
Poverty puts up strong barriers to be well-educated. While good education is crucial to economic success, the reverse is also true. Few people believe that truly poor people will succeed at either, although a few do.
What if we could build a way to go into every home of every poor person and determine how effectively to improve their lives? Some people think we already are doing that, but if we are, why does poverty persist?
If we could channel our efforts to eliminate poverty, in the way we will see relief for Haitians over the next several years, we could change our immediate world.

Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or patsy.brumfield@djournal.com.