Did you know January is Poverty in America Awareness Month? Have you, or someone you know, ever been in a situation where you are unable to acquire the basic necessities? If you are unsure about where to find help, the Heart of Illinois 2-1-1 is an incredible resource. This confidential, free number will connect you with a trained staff member who will be able to put you in contact with readily available services. There are many local organizations that are able to assist those in emergency situations.
This month dedicated to poverty awareness was initiated by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), and is part of the larger program, Poverty, USA. According to the CCHD, 46.2 million, or 1 in 6 Americans live below the poverty line. 1 in 7 American households are food insecure, and 1.6 million children stayed in some sort of emergency housing in 2012 alone. This is not just a national problem, however. Poverty affects our local residents as well. In 2012, the poverty rate for all Peoria region households was 13.7 percent, and the poverty rate of households with children under 18 was 19.4 percent.
There are many organizations that are able to help those in need. The Peoria Friendship House offers services such as an emergency food program, rent/utilities assistance, a thrift closet, and assisting with new baby needs. The local Salvation Army helps individuals with emergency shelter, child care, and veterans’ services, among other things. For a full list of organizations able to help, look for the 2-1-1 website’s search page, and search for your need at 211hoi.org.
If you are in a situation where you are able to assist those who find themselves in need of help, local organizations are always happy to receive help through donations or time spent volunteering. During this month of poverty awareness, it is important to recognize the poverty within our communities, and to do what we are able to eradicate this problem. Remember, if you are in need of assistance and don’t know where to turn, dial 211. If you have trouble connecting, you can also call 309-999-4029, or search for your need at 211hoi.org.