When many of us think of where we grew up, images of playgrounds, swingsets, green lawns and open parks might come to mind. Well, for many children in the US, this scene is much different. Instead, their communities are run-down and sometimes dangerous as vacant lots or abandoned homes get filled with garbage and other waste. Schools look more like institutions than places of learning and creativity and there isn’t a garden anywhere in sight. Does this sound like a good place to grow up?
Well the conditions in these communities make for more than just an eyesore. Crime is higher and there are less jobs as businesses and real estate developers are much less likely to invest in this areas, which just contributes to the vicious cycle of poverty.
However, simple things like cleaning up vacant lots, removing graffiti, painting buildings and fixing broken windows can help communities regain that feeling of being a place to live and can go a long way towards helping residents improve their situation and make a better life. Some studies have shown that these improvements can lead to better physical and mental health. No one should suffer just because of where they are from.
Everyone deserves a place to call home, and in many communities across the country this simply isn’t the case, which has dramatic effects on the attitudes and psyche of those living there. It’s time to remind these people that they matter and that they haven’t been forgotten.
By going to impoverished areas and improving them, we have two effects. First, volunteers have the chance to see how some of the nation’s poorer citizens live. This type of personal connection inspires action and reminds us that life can be crushingly challenging for many people.
Second, it instils a feeling of hope in the community. Everyone should be proud of where they are from and should not be ashamed of where they live. The work we do in these communities prevents this from happening and keeps people from getting discouraged. The world is full of opportunities, and it is important that no one forgets this, no matter where they live.