Volunteers of America’s New PSA Campaign for the Less Fortunate

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Providing a Safety Net for Poverty and Homelessness

Federal and state governments are being overwhelmed with trying to help the populations on the lower end of the income scale

America is fundamentally changing. Historically we were a nation that had the largest middle class in the history of the globe, but now we are becoming a nation that is deeply divided between the haves and the have nots.

In supposedly the richest country in the world, 744,313 people are homeless on any given night, and according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 46.2 million Americans are now living in poverty. That number has grown by 2.6 million in just the last 12 months - the largest increase since the U.S. government began calculating poverty figures back in 1959. Some other important statistics:

●    The number of Americans that are going to food pantries and soup kitchens has increased by 46% since 2006.

●    Nearly 10 million Americans now receive unemployment benefits. That number is almost four times larger than it was back in 2007.

●    More than 45 million Americans are now on food stamps. The number of Americans on food stamps has increased 74% since 2007. In the state of     Alabama, approximately one-third of the entire population is now on food stamps.

●    Back in 1965, only one out of every 50 Americans was on Medicaid. Today, approximately one out of every 6 Americans - more than 50 million Americans - is on Medicaid.

Impact on Special Populations

The poverty rate for children living in the United States increased to 22% in 2010. That means that one out of every five U.S. children is living in poverty. It is being projected that half of all U.S. children will be on food stamps at some point in their lives before they reach the age of 18.

The elderly are also falling into poverty in staggering numbers. They may not be out protesting in the streets, but that does not mean that they are not suffering deeply. Today one out of every six elderly Americans lives below the federal poverty line. Between 1991 and 2007 the number of Americans between the ages of 65 and 74 that filed for bankruptcy rose by a staggering 178 percent.

A Safety Net

“Clearly federal and state governments are being overwhelmed with trying to help the populations on the lower end of the income scale, and that is where private sector organizations such as Volunteers of America come into the picture” says Mike King, President and CEO.

As one of the leading humanitarian organizations in the country, Volunteers of America produced two TV PSAs to publicize the state of poverty in America. The first of these, titled “Stats,“ shows startling statistics about hunger and homelessness with gritty photos of the less fortunate trying to survive, perhaps living in their cars or “dumpster diving” for food in trash bins. The second, titled “Speeches,” has brief excerpts from famous speeches about social justice, including clips from Dr. Martin Luther King, President John F. Kennedy, and noted social humanitarian Barbara Jordan.

Through its hundreds of human service programs, including housing and healthcare, Volunteers of America helps more than two and a half million people in over 400 communities in 46 states as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Since 1896, the non-profit organization has supported and empowered America’s most vulnerable groups, including veterans, at-risk youth, the frail elderly, men and women returning from prison, homeless individuals and families, people with disabilities, and those recovering from addictions. For more information on our services, go to: http://www.voa.org/. The PSAs can be downloaded in broadcast quality at http://goodwillcommunications.com/PSACampaigns.aspx?clid=45.

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Doug McAllister

Bill Goodwill
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