We hear some of the same questions from our community time and time again. They go something like this... "What does it look like to be a poor child in a rich community? Is it really so hard?" Or this one, "You say there are 32,000 homeless kids in Orange County?! Where are they? I never see them. Are you sure?"
And then there are the often unspoken questions, "How could two working parents not be able to afford an apartment? Where's the catch? What are they really doing with that money?" Perhaps the most common question we each ask is this, "If these children and families are living in garages, tiny, overcrowded apartments, and motels, how bad is that really? Are those families truly homeless? What qualifies as a 'home'?"
CNN's John Sutter spent time asking these and other questions, and brought us the answers in his report "The poor kids of Silicon Valley." Through these devastatingly honest stories, we begin to see what poverty looks like in one of California's wealthiest communities, and we also find a platform to explore our own lingering questions.
As Sutter says, "Really, it's a tale of two Americas. This country - with a GDP of $16.8 trillion - has the developed world's second highest rate of child poverty... There's no reason 14.7 million kids should be poor in this rich country."
Here at Project Hope Alliance, we want to join Sutter in sparking honest conversations about our conceptions, and misconceptions, about childhood poverty.
As CEO Jennifer Friend often says, "Homelessness doesn't look one way. No one looks like their story." We hope that, through our "Success Story" series, we can connect our community with the families experiencing (and conquering) homelessness.
Let's commit to asking questions, listening to stories, and daring to care for those in need.