Poverty is not an action or a state of living, instead poverty is an idea instilled in minds and a lifestyle that is hard to break out of. There are 1,386,657 people living in the 42 square miles that make up the Bronx. Out of those people, 28.5% of them live below the poverty level as of 2009. This number has probably grown since then, and the idea of that saddens me. While volunteering at Part of the Solution, I got the chance to interact with people that are struggling in the Bronx. Every day I got to hear their stories and reach out to them in a way I have never been able to do in the past. It was crazy to think about how different our worlds are, but at the same time they are no different from me. We are all human, just trying to live our lives. We all have different aspirations and goals, so why are people with less money so separated from our world? Out of all the people I met at POTS, I didn't believe any of them were poverty-stricken. Instead, they were filled with the love of God and the will to make their situation better. They saw life in a completely different way. Instead of looking at what they didn't have, they looked at what they did have and rejoiced. This was a huge eye opener for me. I began to ask questions to myself such as- "How many times have I let one little thing change my day around completely and sulked for hours because things weren't going as expected?," "I truly live in excess and I'M COMPLAINING?!," and "Wow, she has problems that aren't even in the same realm as mine and she is way more thankful for what she has than I am." If I could begin to enjoy what I have and share it with others, then maybe other people could begin to do the same thing. Little by little, piece by piece, hunger and poverty in general could easily be ended. I hope that in my lifetime I start to see more compassion and caring towards people who are less fortunate because in reality they are no different than I am.
One of the places I have seen this compassion is Part of the Solution, located in the heart of the Bronx. POTS has a variety of things going on that are a blessing to their community including (but not limited to) a soup kitchen, food pantry, clothing, and legal services. However, the people that come to POTS are more effected by the volunteers and friendly faces that work there every day. One of my favorite quotes is: “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” I got to experience this first hand while volunteering at POTS over my alternative spring break trip last week. At POTS every person that walks into the door is treated like family. For some people, this is the only positive human interaction they have every day. The people who work at POTS are so dedicated and committed to making a difference in their community that it has inspired me to do the same wherever I am. Part of the Solution is an amazing organization that is doing great things, and I encourage you to check out their website: http://www.potsbronx.org/