Written by Kayrita M. Anderson and Barbara J. Mosacchio Wednesday, February 24 2010
You've grimaced at the images of sex trafficking, AIDS, lack of access to basic health care, and unsafe living conditions. You feel the pain of women in developing countries who aren’t educated, who have babies on their laps with sad and hungry faces, and whose men squander the family money and then beat them up.
It’s really hard to believe that kind of poverty still exists in our world today, but it does. Unfortunately, you don’t have to go halfway around the world to see it up close.
Those Women Live Right Here in Your Own Backyard
You’ve probably driven by her at the bus stop so many times that you may not even notice her anymore. She’s not very unusual. She’s a very young mom with a baby stroller, a backpack, a grocery bag of diapers, and a loaf of bread. She looks like she should be cruising the mall with her girlfriends or finishing a term paper. But she hasn’t finished high school, and she’s an unmarried, teen mom.
Her Child in the Stroller has a 78% Likelihood of Growing Up in Poverty - Unless You Help Her to Break the Cycle
The grandmother in line at the grocery store has a bag of rice and beans and a few other groceries. She’s one of the almost 6,000 Atlanta grandparents raising their grandchildren. She’ll forego her blood pressure medicine to make sure that they eat together as a family every night. She’ll sacrifice her late life retirement to make sure that they have opportunities to be educated and disciplined. She’s seen a lot of change in her life. She knows that the opportunities are there if she can help keep her grandchildren away from the predators of illiteracy, crime, and poor health that are lurking out there. She is fiercely protective.
She Believes You Can Help Break the Cycle of Poverty for Them
Peer into the eyes of that teenage girl with too much lipstick hanging out in front of the motel. She’s fleeing a bad home and a bad community and running into the arms of those who sell her into a different kind of oppression. She’s just one of more than 350 girls who will be commercially sexually exploited in Georgia this month.
Without Some Help from People Like You, She May Never Escape this Life. Her Children Will Repeat the Cycle.
These women represent the face of generational poverty in Atlanta - something that is, sadly, prevalent in our great and prosperous city. The census reports that more than 200,000 women live below the poverty level in the five-county Atlanta area – that’s Turner Field filled up four times. Imagine that. More than 2,500 children wake up in Atlanta every morning without a place to call home.
The Moral and Economic Toll on our Community is Too Great to Ignore.
The media and celebrity focus on the eradication of global poverty and oppression for women has brought attention and significant financial support to important issues around the world. The plight of all women is important to us, but the plight of our own women and girls trying to step up and out of poverty should be paramount.
The solutions for poverty that are working around the globe are also at work here. Simple charity is not enough. Solutions for systemic change are required. The Atlanta Women’s Foundation invested more than $1 million last year to organizations that are providing the most innovative services to women and girls in poverty – an investment with incredible payback in creating a healthier Atlanta for all of us.
Our Mission is to End Generational Poverty for Women and Girls in Atlanta.
The solutions include innovative concepts in job creation, job training, and micro-finance. Surrounding women and girls with support systems for child care, health care, and affordable housing gives them a chance to be their best and to bring their children along with them. We know that making permanent progress in the eradication of poverty around the globe requires a focus on solving problems through a local lens - community by community.
There is much work left to do, but by helping to lift up Atlanta’s women and girls, you can lift up your entire community and, eventually, the entire world. The numbers of women living in poverty here are significant, but the opportunity is great. As you consider your new year and your new choices, we hope you’ll choose to support our local organizations that are serving the needs of Atlanta’s women and girls.
Perhaps you’ll help rewrite someone’s story and rewrite your own along the way.
Kayrita M. Anderson is CEO of the Harold and Kayrita Anderson Family Foundation, based in Atlanta, Georgia. She has been widely recognized for her work to combat the commercial sexual exploitation of children, a cause that has become the centerpiece of her family foundation. Working along with The Atlanta Women’s Foundation and the Juvenile Justice Fund, she was instrumental in creating A Future. Not A Past, a campaign to end the prostitution of children in Georgia. Most recently she has focused her efforts on taking the work of A Future. Not A Past. to a nationwide platform.
Barbara J. Mosacchio is CEO of the The Atlanta Women’s Foundation. At 19, she suddenly found herself in a situation similar to many of the women she serves today. Her husband walked out on her, and her significant family support system was shattered when her mother passed away. She came to Atlanta from Dallas where she served as CEO of YWCA of Metropolitan Dallas.