The answer to poverty

“The answer to poverty is not simply more income. The answer is choice and opportunity. The answer is freedom and dignity.”

Whether you are a poor farmer in India (the subject of the above quote from Jacqueline Novogratz, Director of Acumen), a homeless veteran on the street, or a single parent struggling with few skills and little preparation for parenthood, the answer is the same. Without choices and opportunity, life becomes a daily grind of survival. Without long term goals and dreams it is easy to discard pride, health, and personal responsibility in favor of satisfying one’s most immediate need for relief from suffering.

I like to tell people that after decades of working with the poor, I have learned a great deal. I have learned that poor people are not less intelligent, moral or wise than I. I pray that I have learned to listen.

I have learned that at least 25 percent of our brethren, our fellow citizens, live in a world apart. They do not participate in our democracy, or in any fundamental sense in our economy. I am always surprised that this fact does not seem to bother most of us. For me, it is like an eight cylinder car running on six. Sooner or later, particularly in this competitive global economy, that car will be stalled on the side of the road. Democracy requires a diverse, educated, involved electorate. Our nation’s economic strength is ultimately about the ingenuity of our people. As a society we cannot afford to waste 25 percent of our human resource.

Choice and Opportunity. The St. Vincent de Paul Society of Juneau works to find choice and opportunity for individuals to help them help themselves. We do not assume that we have a “program” that will meet each person’s need. We listen. We try to help in any way we can. Often it is permanent, safe, affordable housing. Sometimes it is a ticket home to family. Sometimes it is a food voucher, a Holiday basket, or help with a medical bill. Sometimes it is summer camp or music lessons to keep the light burning in a child’s eyes.

The Society is blessed because the local community generates the vast majority of its financial support, about 70 percent. Patronage of our Thrift Store and local donations by individuals and businesses are the majority of that, contributions from the people we serve make up the rest.

The annual Walk for the Poor is the one time of the year we ask you directly to support our work. More important, it is a simple demonstration by those of us who enjoy choice and opportunity that we stand with all our brothers and sisters in need—that we will not forget them; that we will not rest until all have access to choice and opportunity. We hope you will walk with us on Saturday, Sept. 14. Registration is at 9 a.m. at St. Paul’s church; 10 a.m. is the walk to Fred Myer and back for hotdogs etc. If you cannot walk with us, we invite you to donate by sending a check to St Vincent De Paul or donating via our website. You can also donate at the St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store.

Dan Austin is the general manager of the St. Vincent de Paul Society of Juneau.


Mon, 02/27/2017 - 08:37

Rich Moniak: Presidential lies that matter

President Donald Trump did not have “the biggest electoral college win since Ronald Reagan” as he said during his first press conference last week. The fact that he’s wrong doesn’t justify calling him a liar though. It’s an insignificant statement. But like his predecessors, it should serve as a warning that, whenever it serves his own interests, Trump will discard the truth on serious matters.

Read more
Mon, 02/27/2017 - 08:33

Letter: State senator’s form letter full of misinformation on Planned Parenthood

I have been in correspondence with my Senator, Dan Sullivan. I was able to let him know by email that I want him to continue support of Planned Parenthood federally and locally. I am disheartened by the form letter I received from him. His letter was full of misinformation that reflected/used the words that pro-life organizations do. If he is going to write back to his constituents, he should use language that shows he is aware of what the laws are and how funding really works.

Read more
Mon, 02/27/2017 - 08:32

My Turn: Gov. Walker shouldn’t fleece taxpayers while cutting budget

Gov. Bill Walker, you should be ashamed of yourself for stooping so low to even consider further fleecing the very taxpayer who supports a lot of this so-called government, especially since you already took 50% of the permanent fund as another form of tax to support your already top-heavy bureaucracy that never seems to get or have enough to spend.

Read more
Mon, 02/27/2017 - 08:31

ANWR: Let it be

Nearly 20 years ago historian Stephen Ambrose visited Juneau as part of the Alaska Humanities Forum. The author of “Undaunted Courage,” “Citizen Soldiers” and other bestselling books, Ambrose said the last century had been darkened by world wars. But overall the century’s theme was inspiring: democracy prevailed over totalitarianism.

Read more


  • Switchboard: 907-586-3740
  • Circulation and Delivery: 907-586-3740
  • Newsroom Fax: 907-586-9097
  • Business Fax: 907-586-9097
  • Accounts Receivable: 907-523-2230
  • View the Staff Directory
  • or Send feedback