Although every family experiences its own unique set of challenges, there are far too many that struggle with common, basic necessities like food, shelter and transportation because they are financially broken. When families live in poverty, they become experts at compensating, adapting and adjusting. The energy required for maintaining the status quo can be daunting and conditions rarely improve without significant change. But access to education is not always practical, better jobs are not always an option, and more resources are not always available. So the family remains economically unwell.

Lack of helpful resources often leads to compounded ripple effects touching essential elements of family life such as work, child care and personal health. Without reliable and affordable private or public transportation, it’s difficult to get to a job, haul groceries or even do laundry.

Monthly budgets are disproportionately biased toward food or shelter and little else. Homeowners with low incomes are often crippled by unexpected expenses (often stop-gap and inadequate) like roof repairs or a new furnace. Even weatherizing a home to save money may be near impossible because of squeakier wheels like medications and hospital visits, or unavoidable emergencies such as dental work.

Living in poverty often translates to maintaining a dynamic where a good day is defined by no financial surprises and a bad day can result in dire consequences. Poverty takes a toll on both physical and mental health, resulting in more visits to the ER and pervasive mental illnesses like depression and high anxiety.

No one chooses to live in poverty. Some estimates show nearly 11 million American children are food insecure and 60% of Americans are unable to save for retirement. If you aren’t among them, please consider helping those that are.

Peter Phair

executive director

Waterville Area Habitat For Humanity 

Greater Waterville Poverty Action Coalition

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