How the underserved in the Bay Area continue to get left further behind.
A true incongruity exists in the region where the trappings and firepower of great wealth overshadow the crumbling neighborhoods and dire poverty that exist, literally, right around the corner.
As Dan Walters, a columnist with CalMatters stated, "There you have it, the California Paradox." (For the full article, click here.)
On the one hand, you have ‘basic’ six-figure salaries, more high-end cars on the road than you can count and simple, single-family homes selling for well over a million-plus. On the other hand, there are many thousands of families struggling to make ends meet; whose parents are working multiple jobs to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads while hoping that nothing upsets the tenuous state in which they hold on day-to-day.
Through its engagement with over 200+ Schools and 500+ Bay Area Service Agencies, Family Giving Tree is seeing the income gap widen at an alarming rate. As housing prices continue to rise and rents soar, low-income families are being driven further and further from their places of work and familiar support networks. At the same time, rapidly expanding cities and communities are having to quickly adapt to this influx of new residents needing assistance and services. So while a family might save on housing costs, they are now saddled with increased transportation costs due to a longer commute and gas prices which exceed the national average by a full dollar. They just can’t win.
But, household budgets aren’t the only thing being negatively affected: children lose important ground due to the disruption of their education. Changing schools can potentially mean the loss of weeks of learning as a student–of any age–will struggle to adapt to the new classrooms, teachers, rules, and curriculum and battle their own lack of confidence, having left supportive friends and trusted allies behind.
So, while the newspapers present the facts; and stories such as this are just one of many quickly forgotten; to us, and other nonprofits who serve families, it gets personal. We see their struggle first hand. We know the stress they live with and how unhealthy the situations often are. There are days when the issue can overwhelm any of us because it is enormous and then there are days that we feel empowered and helpful–not to mention hopeful–and turn enthusiastically to the work at hand.
Annually, and for the past twenty-nine years, Family Giving Tree has worked to relieve some of the pressures these struggling families face. With the gift of a backpack filled with much-needed, grade-appropriate school supplies through our Back-to-School Drive and the granting of a wished-for holiday gift through the Holiday Wish Drive, we know that we do, and can, make a difference in the lives of the community residents we support each year. But it’s not enough. While we serve tens of thousands, it amounts to approximately just eleven percent of the total need. Eleven percent.
So, when you can give to support the work of Bay Area nonprofits, please do. Whether you donate or volunteer, your investment in their work means the chance for one more family to break out of the poverty cycle. It allows one more student to be the first in their family to go to college. It means someone may be able to step out of the shadows and feel the light of success shine on their house too.
Donate now at fgt.org/donate and help us start breaking the cycle to make more of Northern California a brighter place.
New Feature: Holiday Wish Drive Community Partners
Each week we'll feature an organization, individual or company that has chosen to support the Holiday Wish Drive with a little something extra. Please read their stories and support their efforts as they seek to help us spread joy this holiday season to Bay Area residents living in need.
AVON & Doris Roth
"Since 1972, I’ve called Milpitas my home. I have a passion for giving back to the community and my Avon business has been an excellent vehicle for doing so. The last four years I have enjoyed donating beauty products for women in need, totally around $1100 in items each year. Feeling good creates self-confidence—a valuable lesson I’ve learned throughout the past 40 years, during which I have been associated with Avon Products in different capacities. When one of my friends introduced me to the Family Giving Tree and their mission, I knew I wanted to do what I could to support the cause. I have participated in the Holiday Wish Drive, wrapped presents and donated to the Back-to-School Drive, in addition to beauty donations I am proud to provide."
Created with images by inspirexpressmiami - "blog word letters" • Joshua Newton - "long sloping urban street"