Okay it may seem strange that a person who has no children would be writing about children. I think I am also the only pastor that does not have children in his church so what am I to do. I will say this right up front, Children are our future and Children are important.
I live in a rather small community we have about 17,000 people in our Town. Like most small town in New England, Southbridge used to be a mill town. American Optical, the largest manufacturer of eye glasses in the world, used to be here but it has long since closed along with the woolen mills that were here. At any given time half of the town was employed by the “AO” and now it is gone. The median household income is $33,913 and the median family income is $41,863. Not too bad until you see that 15.4% of the population of this town is below the Federal Poverty Line. Shocking still is that 25.8% of that number are under 18.
If my math is correct 3.85% or 654.5 children in this small town are living below the poverty level. It is hard to put a dollar amount on that because it changes with each person in the family. For arguments sake let’s assume three people in the family. The Federal Poverty Level for a family of three is 18,310. The numbers get larger as the family grows but a family of 8 $37,010 is the Federal Limit.
654 children in this community live in poverty. What does this mean? Well more than likely they go to bed hungry, have limited health care and limited educational opportunities. What does this do to their future? To put a fine point on it, with few exceptions, the cycle will continue with the next generation and we will continue to see this number rise. The scary thing is these number are almost 3 years old but they are the numbers available. I can only imagine in this economic climate that the number of children living in poverty is much higher.
We have to do better. We have to do better for all people but we especially have to do better by our children. Southbridge is one community in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts that has some 350 cities and towns. If we simply take the number here in Southbridge and multiply it by 350 that is more than a quarter of a million children living in poverty in Massachusetts. I know not very scientific but you get the point.
Yesterday I wrote about the role of the church and this is part of it. We need to do better by our children and we need to do better now, before it is too late.