By: Delia Marrero

I have grown as a person living in poverty, watching a system that creates a cycle of dependency with very few passages for escape. This system promotes stereotypes and generalizations. The conditions that are associated with poverty vary. It is set up in such a manner that children living in poverty receive a second-rate education based on their geographic location and eating sub-standard meals with little or no nutritional value. Neighborhoods lack resources, education rates are low and escape is rare. Low-income neighborhoods are clustered with individuals who have been born and raised in poverty. Every day is a struggle.

Poverty is a persistent aspect of human existence, of my existence. Riddled with inequality and strife, poverty has provided me with a unique set of personal conflicts that follow me throughout my life. I live just making ends meet on a daily basis while raising my children. I work fulltime and still can’t afford my own place to live. I am motivated by the desire to provide my children with better opportunities in life, but all too often I see that their opportunities are limited by my economic standing.

I am a high school dropout, a single teenage mother and a welfare recipient. I am employed, have earned an Associate’s degree and am a college student working towards a Bachelor’s degree – and I am poor. There are times when I am ashamed of myself. There are moments when I break down because I can’t get out of this persistent rut. It has made me feel as though my potential will always be overshadowed by my social standing. I feel the grip of poverty and it holds on tight.

I live in a world that casts aside potential based on economic status. I see people who are caged in their surroundings and left to their own devices.

I have always had a job, sometimes two, all while raising my daughters and going to school. For 10 years I have worked hard trying to do the right thing, and for 10 years poverty has broken my spirit and trampled my stride. Over the years I have seen my income increase but it has not increased enough to remove me from the clutches of poverty.

Education though has provided me with an effective tool to combat poverty. I have been able to increase my earning potential over the years through my education. I have opened my eyes to the injustices of poverty, the inequalities that affect communities and the harsh realities that many families live in. This is the life I have lived.

Poverty is exhausting, and it takes a lot of hard work, desire and persistence to break free from its grasp.

About the author:

Delia Marrero is a full-time employee at CACLV with the Weatherization program, which helps community members lower living costs by weatherizing homes through services such as furnace repairs, caulking, insulation and weather-stripping.

Thirty Grants Given to Celebrate BJ’s Wholesale Club’s 30th Anniversary and Increase Local Capacity 

Allentown, PA. September 11, 2014 – Second Harvest Food Bank of Lehigh Valley and Northeast Pennsylvania announced Monday they’ll be one of 30 food banks to be awarded grants this September from BJ’s Charitable Foundation. The foundation is distributing grants in celebration of BJ’s Wholesale Club’s 30th anniversary. A member of the Feeding America network, Second Harvest Food Bank is among those awarded gifts to increase the food storage capacity for local anti-hunger organizations.

While food banks often have immense space and storage to provide product for the food pantries and shelters they support, these smaller partner organizations and charities often have limited equipment abilities. Limited equipment hinders their ability to serve the community. By providing anti-hunger partners like food pantries, shelters and meal programs with the necessary equipment, they can transport and store a larger amount of perishable items and thus distribute more food to local families struggling with food insecurity.

“We are thrilled to have been awarded one of the 30th anniversary grants by BJ’s Charitable Foundation,” said Ann McManus, Director of Second Harvest.  “Because of this grant, we will be able to work with our local partners to help them obtain more healthful foods and ensure that food makes it into the hands of more Lehigh Valley neighbors in need.”

Second Harvest Food Bank will utilize the award to provide more than 20 of its partner agencies with additional freezer and refrigerator equipment and foresees a 50% increase in the distribution of perishable product by those agencies, including fresh produce, dairy, and meats.

“BJ’s Wholesale Club is proud to reach our 30-year milestone and share our enthusiasm by expanding our role in the fight against hunger,” said Gary Sutton, Regional Operations Manager of BJ’s Wholesale Club.  “Supporting Second Harvest Food Bank and their local agencies’ need for capacity building will ensure that perishable food can reach the people who need it most in our own backyard.

The BJ’s Charitable Foundation $21,000 grant to Second Harvest Food Bank is being awarded during September as the non-profit is also observing Hunger Action Month™. Hunger Action Month is a nationwide campaign, founded by the leading domestic hunger-relief organization Feeding America, to mobilize the public to take action on the issue of hunger in America.  Second Harvest Food Bank will be working within the community on a variety of local Hunger Action Month activities.

The added local capacity provided by this grant comes on the heels of the national Hunger in America 2014 study announcement that one in seven Americans, more than 46 million people including 12 million children, rely on food pantries and meal service programs.

 About Second Harvest Food Bank of Lehigh Valley & Northeast Pennsylvania

Second Harvest Food Bank distributes food and grocery product to more than 72,000 people in need each month through a network of more than 200 member agencies in Carbon, Lehigh, Monroe, Northampton, Pike, and Wayne counties.  These agencies include emergency pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, child-care and rehabilitation centers.  Last year, Second Harvest distributed nearly 7 million pounds of food to people in need through these organizations.  As part of its mission, the Food Bank also provides resources for education and advocacy to end hunger.

Second Harvest Food Bank is a program of the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley (CACLV) and is a member of Feeding America, the nation’s food bank network and largest hunger relief organization.

About BJ’s Wholesale Club

BJ’s is dedicated to providing Members with high-quality, brand-name food and merchandise at prices that are significantly lower than supermarkets, supercenters, department stores, drug stores and specialty retail stores.  BJ’s carries the most product variety of any Membership club with more than 7,000 items, including supermarket-sized staples, USDA Choice meats and stock-up items, as well as all-natural and organic products. BJ’s is the only membership club to accept all manufacturers’ coupons and for greater convenience, offers the most payment options including EBT.

Headquartered in Westborough, Massachusetts, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Inc. is a leading operator of warehouse clubs in the eastern United States.  The Company currently operates 203 clubs and in 15 eastern states.  Learn more and shop online at www.BJs.com or, for exclusive content visit Facebook.com/bjswholesaleclub and Twitter.com/bjswholesale.

About BJ’s Charitable Foundation

BJ’s Charitable Foundation was established with the mission to enrich every community BJ’s Wholesale Clubs serve. The Foundation supports nonprofit organizations that primarily benefit the underprivileged in the area of basic needs (hunger prevention, self-sufficiency, education and health). For more information about BJ’s Charitable Foundation, please visit, www.bjs.com/charity/.

 Contact: Sharon Alexander, (610)434-0875, salexander@caclv.org 

Contractors will weatherize 20 homes to generate new interest in saving money on energy costs
as winter approaches.

Date:       August 13, 2014
Time:       10:30 AM
Location:  1600 Hastings Road, Bethlehem 

With the harsh winter behind us still giving people the shivers and the next winter approaching, it is a good time to think about how to save money on heating costs. The Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley, PPL Electric Utilities and the network of partners weatherizing homes in the Lehigh Valley will put on an impressive display of resources this week to showcase the benefits of improving the energy efficiency of homes.

Representatives of PPL Electric Utilities, CACLV and the residents who will have their homes weatherized will speak about the service and how to apply.

At the location and time listed above, the two groups will line up contractors and their trucks, new refrigerators and water heaters and more as they prepare to start weatherizing homes. PPL and CACLV representatives will discuss the program’s eligibility requirements, measures that are applied to the homes, how to sign up for the program and more.

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ALLENTOWNThe Sixth Street Shelter, a program of Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley, is celebrating its 30th Anniversary with a day of FREE family fun from 12-to-4 p.m. on Saturday, August 16, 2014, on the entire block of North Sixth Street between Turner and Chew Streets in Allentown, where the Shelter is located.

What better way to celebrate 30 years of helping to keep families together than by offering free family activities such as carnival games, prizes, food and fun? Hot dogs, beverages, popcorn, cotton candy, Tootsee the Clown, and a visit from Disney’s Frozen characters Elsa and Olaf are among the many events to take place. There will be a dunk tank, skee ball, a bounce house, bean bag toss, ring toss and many other games, events and plenty of prizes to celebrate the day.

Ever wanted to dunk Alan Jennings, Executive Director of CACLV? For a $30 donation, you can have a shot at 3 balls to throw at the tank to dunk Alan from 1:30-to-2 p.m. Other Shelter staff will be in the tank throughout the day as well.

A brief press conference will be held at 1 p.m. at which PA Senator Pat Browne and PA Representative Mike Schlossberg and others will be offering comments in honor of the Shelter’s 30 years of service to the community.

Established in 1984, the Sixth Street Shelter is the largest family shelter in the region. It consists of 5 buildings on North Sixth Street in Allentown, which contain 25 fully-furnished apartments. The Shelter is a transitional housing program designed to keep the entire family intact, while giving them the tools they need to end their homelessness during their 60-day stay. Each family has its own self-contained apartment, without having to share kitchen or bathroom facilities with others, as is often typical in traditional shelters.

“As tragic as homelessness is, it says something about this community that it can generate the resources necessary to feed and shelter more than 2,500 families, including over 5,000 children for the past 30 years,” said Dawn Godshall, Director of the Sixth Street Shelter. “We’re truly grateful for the generosity of our donors who support the families we serve. We wanted to thank the entire community by hosting a fun event for both our program participants and the neighborhood we’ve been a part of for three decades,” said Godshall.

In keeping with the theme of “30″, the Shelter will have a donation table at the event, which will be collecting items in groups of 30′s: 30 mops, 30 brooms, 30 can openers, etc. If you or your organization would like to organize a collection, or make a monetary contribution, please stop by our donation table the day of the event.

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Hello all,

Tonight’s guests on my show are bloggers Bernie O’Hare (Lehigh Valley Ramblings) and Mike Molovinsky (Molovinsky on Allentown).  Both blogs are widely read and both cause just a little bit of controversy.  While Bernie focuses primarily on politics and government, Mike spreads his coverage to an array of favorite topics, like boxing and Allentown’s history, as well as politics and government. I’ll be exploring the blogging world as well as the issues in a discussion that has plenty of room for debate.

Click here to tune into WDIY 88.1 FM Lehigh Valley Discourse.