Terry Paulson

Lynn noted, “Most homeless people are invisible, but local non-profits who help the homeless and those in danger of becoming homeless are seeing intact, two-parent families in larger numbers. There’s also an increase of women with children. They just don't earn enough money to keep a roof over their head. Social service agencies like Lutheran Social Services and Catholic charities tell us that a ‘normal’ outlay to keep a family housed is a one-time payment of $500-$800. This is often enough to get somebody through a disaster—a sick family member with no insurance, their only vehicle breaking down, or a cut in hours for a wage-earner.”

Our budget-strapped government can’t be the only answer. While fighting the state budget cuts, local governments will use their limited funds on vital public services and in stimulating more economic growth. Denis Weber, current mayor of Agoura Hills commented on the difference volunteers make: “We’re joining in lawsuits with other cities to fight the state’s decision to take local funds. We’re also trying to support our local businesses. People don’t want handouts; they want jobs. But until those jobs become available, some need help. You can’t put a price tag on the volunteer work done in our communities that is done for free. As a rotating mayor of a city, you’re the face of the community, and you get more of the calls. You see the need, and you see volunteers making a difference every day. Every politician wants to leave a legacy, but you soon realize that the greatest legacy you can leave is to tell their story and to shine the light on the volunteers who fill the gaps in these tough times. We in government need to find a way to connect needs with people willing to help because those needs are getting bigger. I just hope more citizens get involved.”

With vital charities and programs in desperate need for funds and volunteers, the opportunity for you to make a difference has never been more important. Challenge your faith community to post service opportunities beyond the walls of your sanctuary. Walk your neighborhood. Start conversations; take note of the needs that surface, and work together to help where you can.

We are not powerless. By making a difference locally, you won’t just help your neighbor; you’ll recharge your “purpose” batteries and help us reclaim the power of community that helped make America great!

Terry Paulson

Terry Paulson, PhD is a psychologist, award-winning professional speaker, author of The Optimism Advantage: 50 Simple Truths to Transform Your Attitudes and Actions into Results, and long-time columnist for the Ventura County Star.

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