The US needs help too

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Claudia Blackman returns to talk about the national domestic problems that the United States needs to address. What are some of the big domestic problems? and why aren’t efforts that work internationally being used in the US?

Hello, blog readers! Thanks for stopping by.  Today I’d like to share with you my recent thoughts on US-based non-profit work.  

Charity starts at home, and home for me is New Jersey, USA. The US is an industrialized country with countless resources, yet there is a plethora of issues that need the attention of  “home grown” non-profiteers.  I’ve been thinking, perhaps more attention is given to international development because of the apparent shame in accepting and recognizing issues at the national level.

As US citizens, we can’t just sweep these problems under the rug. I think we fail to support home-based initiatives because we are wary of scammers. Working in New York City, I see panhandlers every day looking for donations from passers-by. Unfortunately, some of them are imposters and take advantage of good-natured people.  This is of particular concern to individuals who are interested in supporting underserved communities voluntarily or through financial contributions.

There is a number of non-profit workers from the US addressing problems internationally that exist in our own country- such as the provision of basic needs (food, shelter and so forth).  Over the years, in the midst of economic recession and recovery, issues such as homelessness and starvation are apparent throughout the US.  

Aside from shame (or turning a blind eye), the US government (and media) is another reason for attention being diverted to international issues or countries with weak governments and minimal investment in civil society. However, the story isn’t much different in the US. Our government continues to debate who is responsible for taking care of domestic issues and fails to assess the effectiveness of social assistance programs. There is a vicious battle with regards to legislation being passed to develop assistance programs for the homeless and the hungry.

So what do we do about it? The non-profit sector helps fill the gap where initiatives are not covered by legislature here in the US. Our responsibilities as nonprofiteers continues to change as the laws change regarding these underserved groups. Every few months there are creative and innovative solutions to address access to clean water or schooling in the developing world, yet that creativity lacks with home-based issues. We will, for example, continue with *ancient* interventions such as food stamps (first introduced in 1939)- pausing only to change its name – (it is now known as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Perhaps we feel that we have to work with existing resources and structures, whereas those in international development feel that they can start from scratch as the regions they work in have lesser resources. For example, there are clever solutions to water access internationally, yet the US still has difficulty getting resources to victims of natural disasters.  We also see advocates for change suffer punishments for making statements through protesting or feeding the homeless. This would be a particular concern to philanthropists, as they want to ensure that their financial contributions will make a significant positive change to affected communities.

American non profiteers need to think creatively and work together to help people in our own country. We need to make sure injustices like this don’t happen. We have enough food to feed the hungry, so let’s get serious about food recovery efforts.  We have enough beauticians and barbers to perform these services. We have provided water access in Africa through creative inventions, yet had little help for California during their massive drought in 2014.  These are just a handful of the issues we have to work to resolve as US non profiteers.  We need to figure out what issues we can seek to resolve with our existing resources, while also understanding how to support the communities that need the most help.

It’s time we start adopting creative approaches to addressing problems we are experiencing at home.  What are your thoughts?  Tweet me at @CLAUDIABLACKMAN1

Claudia is an aspiring non profiteer from northern New Jersey, with a particular interest in education and youth development.  In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family, friends, and dog Bob.

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