Students in Meredith’s First Year Experience classes attended an event on September 12, 2012, that helped tie community service to what they learned reading this year’s Summer Reading Program selection.
Jeannette Walls’ memoir, “The Glass Castle” brings to vivid life the issues of poverty. The FYE program, which featured guest speaker Anne Burke, ’87, executive director of Urban Ministries of Wake County, helped to illustrate poverty in the local area.
Urban Ministries is a nonprofit organization that supports low-income and homeless adults, serving more than 20,000 people a year. Burke offered statistics about poverty in North Carolina, noting that 17.8% of the state’s residents live at or below the poverty line. For 2012, the poverty line is defined as a family of four with an annual household income of $23,050 or less.
“The Glass Castle’ is true here, in the sense that there are many, many families in our area who live lives like Jeannette Walls describes in her book, and who have to overcome many challenges,” Burke said.
There are 1.6 million people who live below the federal poverty line in North Carolina, including 203,000 in the Triangle area, a number that would fill nearby Carter Finley Stadium three times.
“The Walls family definitely fit in that category,” Burke said. “The effects of this include hungry children and sick family members with no way to see a doctor.”
Burke talked about her experiences with Urban Ministries, and gave an overview of the services the organization provides, including a food pantry, a free health clinic that serves 6,000 patients, and the Helen Wright Center, a women’s shelter that aims to help women rebuild their lives.
“I want to help you understand that there are so many people among you who are homeless and who are poor,” Burke said. “Urban Ministries is one of many organizations in the area that is working to improve the situation.”
After Burke’s presentation, FYE students visited agency tables and gathered information on service projects FYE classes will adopt this fall.
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