News / USA

US Charities Endure Hard Times

Concern grows as holiday season approaches

Multimedia

Audio
Mike Osborne

For the first time in her life, Jameka Usher is homeless. Since April, when the family was evicted, she and her four children have been living in rooms provided free by the Salvation Army. The Ushers are among America's large and growing class of working poor, who don’t earn enough to support their family.

"It wasn't like it was just me. I have four little ones following and looking up to me," Usher says. "So, it was scary. I felt like I didn't have anywhere to turn to."

The last few years of economic upheaval have been scary for a lot of Americans, as well as for the non-profit agencies that serve them. The Nashville command of the Salvation Army has seen a four-fold increase in requests for help.

That's unprecedented in Lt. Colonel Charles White's 45-year career with the charity. “Had someone the other day just come into our office here and say, 'I'm embarrassed to be here. Last year I was contributing to the Salvation Army, but now I'm coming to the Salvation Army to ask for help myself.'"

And just as more families like the Ushers are asking for housing and other help, benevolent agencies are seeing a downturn in charitable donations and government assistance. White says Nashville recently lost a $400,000 federal grant, and he fears more cuts are ahead.

"We understand the need to balance the budget, but we also see the direct impact that has here on the street, at the local level, on families and on individuals who have no place to turn other than the Salvation Army and agencies like us."

Second Harvest Food Bank, also in Nashville, provides free meals to more than 400,000 Tennesseans each year. Like the Salvation Army, Second Harvest has seen a dramatic increase in requests for help, and an equally dramatic downturn in donations.

"Federal and state funding dollars are shrinking," says the food bank’s Tasha Kennard. "Donors are experiencing fatigue because they've helped pitch in during this great time of need over the past three years, and they're at a point when they may not be able to give at higher levels any longer."

And that has agencies like Second Harvest and Salvation Army worried, because the last two months of the year are traditionally a time Americans make their largest charitable donations.

"During November and December, our food bank raises 60 percent of the necessary funds and food to provide 14 million meals to this community on an annual basis," Kennard says. "So we've got to raise nine million meals in 60 days. For us that is a huge challenge."

That challenge has had some positive effect.

Homeless for the first time, Jameka Usher is among America's growing class of working poor, not earning enough to support her family.
Homeless for the first time, Jameka Usher is among America's growing class of working poor, not earning enough to support her family.

"We've had to be innovative. We've had to be more collaborative than ever before," Kennard says. "So our organization has grown drastically in terms of our ability to serve this community in ways we never thought possible and we're proud of that."

Jameka Usher is feeling some pride as well. She recently completed her high school education and is now taking classes on financial management. She’s even seen positive changes in her children.

"They realize now that you cherish what you have and you don't take it for granted. And I think that's going to take us a long way. Actually, I think this place has brought us closer."

Usher says her family has also learned patience. It’s a trait that they, and the charities that serve them, will likely call on often as the American economy recovers at a glacial pace.

You May Like

China May Be Biggest Winner From Ukraine Crisis

Missile sales, oil and gas shipments are among many areas that may drive Beijing and Moscow closer together in coming years More

Obama Faces Chaotic World, Limits of Power

Current foreign policy issues bring into focus challenges for US policymakers who are mindful of Americans' waning appetite for overseas military engagements More

SADC Meeting Lesotho Officials to Resolve Stalemate

Official says regional bloc has been engaged with leaders in Lesotho to resolve political disagreement that led to coup attempt More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid