Tuesday, January 03, 2006

National Service Members Serve and Suffer

Why Am I Living in Poverty?

I find that one of the biggest problems in the world of social services and social justice is this odd notion that in order to successfully serve the impovershed, one must also live in poverty. I
currently serve the AmeriCorps*VISTA program, and it is their policy to pay their members 105% of the poverty level in the area they are serving. Their rational for this is so that we can better understand the people we are serving by living like them.

I do not consider myself greedy nor do I base my success in life on financial status. However, many other people do. There are lots of people in the world who do what they do for the money and would scoff at the position I am currently serving in. Not all of these people are stupid. Many of them are highly productive young go-getters whose talents would greatly advance the world of social justice. But, there seems to be some strange understanding that only those of pure heart should be allowed to do good. So, we must make work involving social justice as uncomfortable as possible to ensure that only those who truly believe in the cause work for it.

I challenge this belief and say why not make serving the country more inviting? I spend a lot of my day working on the development of a statewide voicemail program. Who cares why I'm doing it? If I was doing it for the money, it would still get done. The voicemail program is what's important, not the value of my soul. If they offered a more competitive salary, perhaps someone more qualified would've filled this position and taken care of the program in a more
efficient manner.

I love what I do and am in no way using this blog as an attempt to get a raise. I am just upset that there is a world of talent involved in the market of products and consumers while the market of ideals and societal betterment must pray for the best when dunking into the pool of kind hearted people. Don't get me wrong. The people I work with go above and beyond the qualifications for their position, and social services is full of equally talented people. It's just that the non-profit world could be so much more productive if they had a larger plot of resources to dig from. First, we must overcome our notion that only those who have taken a vow of poverty can make a difference in the world.

Josh the VISTA

Posts by Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless staff and Board.

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