As economic forecast improves, let us not forget to lift up the working poor

As economic forecast improves, let us not forget to lift up the working poor

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Thousands of people in need would go hungry were it not for the daily efforts of social service agencies across the Valley. Those efforts rely heavily on volunteers like Peter and Kathy Maland, pictured here in this 2008 photo, who have served faithfully at the Society of St. Vincent de Paul for nearly three decades. “I was brought up in poverty,” the Italian immigrant said. Maland went on to success in insurance sales and retired to life at St. Vincent de Paul. (File photo by Ambria Hammel, The Catholic Sun.)

Thousands of people in need would go hungry were it not for the daily efforts of social service agencies across the Valley. Those efforts rely heavily on volunteers like Peter and Kathy Maland, pictured here in this 2008 photo, who have served faithfully at the Society of St. Vincent de Paul for nearly three decades. “I was brought up in poverty,” the Italian immigrant said. Maland went on to success in insurance sales and retired to life at St. Vincent de Paul. (File photo by Ambria Hammel, The Catholic Sun.)

Analysts are predicting that Arizona’s economy will grow at a steady, moderate pace throughout 2014 as it continues to grind its way through the lingering effects of the Great Recession.

Home prices continue to climb. Other leading indicators such as job growth, unemployment, retail and car sales continue to move, though at glacial speed, in a positive direction.

Good news, right?

Well, put down the champagne bottles, because there still exists in our nation a sorrowful moral crisis when more than 46 million people, over 15 percent of our country, live in poverty. (Defined as an annual income of less than $23,283 for a family of four.)

Coming in at No. 8 in the nation, Arizona’s poverty rate stands at 19 percent, which means that almost one out of five of us don’t know how we’re going to make ends meet or where our children will get their next meal. Staggeringly, 27 percent of our children live in poverty; one out of every 10 seniors, too. And those numbers, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, are on the rise.

“In a world where there is so much wealth, so many resources to feed everyone, it is unfathomable that there are so many hungry children, that there are so many children without an education, so many poor persons,” Pope Francis said to school students over the summer. “Poverty today is a cry.”

Lifting up and caring for the poor and marginalized has been a central theme for Pope Francis.

How can we help do our part to lift up the working poor, who struggle to break free from the cycle of poverty? Together we can educate ourselves about this tremendous moral injustice by listening to Pope Francis and by living the Gospel message. Much more can be found at PovertyUSA.org.

Additionally, we can donate generously to the Catholic Campaign for Human Development collection at Masses this weekend, which gives life to the domestic anti-poverty and social justice program of the Church.

And as we approach the end of the calendar year, please give to the Working Poor Tax Credit, a significant way for us taxpayers to make a lasting and positive impact on the lives of the community. Our redirected tax dollars (up to $400 for married couples and $200 for single filers) will help aid organizations who are best equipped to serve the working poor, including the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Catholic Charities and the Foundation for Senior Living.

With Arizona’s economy poised to continue its rebound from the Great Recession, we are morally obligated to make sure no one is left behind.

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