Countless Americans are engaged in the good and quiet work of trying to help their fellow citizens find the path out of poverty or addiction or joblessness.  These are community leaders, pastors, social workers and elected officials who believe all Americans deserve an equal chance at a good life regardless of their zip code. 

Breaking down the barriers to safe schools and battling drug abuse and hunger are some of the issues these leaders face every day. People like Robert L. Woodson, Sr., founder of the Woodson Center, working to keep young people out of gangs. Or the City of Refuge in Atlanta where volunteers went into the fifth most violent zip code in America to transform lives and lift people out of poverty, out of addiction and on to a pathway for success. Or Carol Hill who started a food pantry that is completely funded by the loose change of parishioners at Mt. Zion United Methodist Church. It feeds 180 hungry families – in one of the nation’s richest counties – a reminder that hunger and poverty exist everywhere in our country.

These unsung heroes in your community that work to lift people out of poverty every day. They do it not for the recognition but because they want to help neighbors in need. Speaker Paul Ryan has spent the last several years going on a listening tour in which he is meeting with these inspirational leaders and learning about their strategies to successfully break the cycle of poverty in communities across our nation.

“This is a beautiful part of civil society that needs to be looked upon, that we need to shed a light upon so that we can show and see that there are people in our communities who are successfully fighting poverty, breaking the cycle of poverty and helping get people into lives of self-sufficiency to restore opportunity to poor communities,” Ryan said in an interview on the Opportunity Lives podcast.

Here at Sip and Savor we agree.  It’s hard to find time in our busy lives to give back and help others, but take a moment to examine what barriers you face in finding the time and resources to help those in need. Can you spare one night a week to read to children struggling to learn or coach a little league team? Serve the hungry at a soup kitchen? Maybe you’ve got a jar full of loose change…just think about the ways it can be put to good use.