Catholic leaders at Poverty Summit look at poverty's causes, solutions
Published: September 27, 2012
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- When a few hundred people met in Washington recently to discuss ways to solve the nation's high poverty rate, one group was noticeably missing from the discussion: those actually living in poverty. That did not go unnoticed by participants and speakers who mentioned their absence and said they hope to add the voices of the poor to future gatherings. They also said they want to include them more in day-to-day efforts to reduce poverty. Advocates for the poor came together Sept. 21-22 for the National Poverty Summit, co-sponsored by Catholic Charities USA and the Corporation for Enterprise Development, which empowers low- and moderate-income households to build and preserve assets. In a breakout session Sept. 22, Sheila Gilbert, national president of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, urged members of volunteer agencies to make sure "every person you interact with becomes a volunteer for you." Gilbert said those in poverty should not simply be given help but must be considered "one of us." And that's not the only change she thinks should happen in how social agencies operate. She thinks such groups need to focus on how to better share resources with other organizations doing similar work. "Helping people survive, we're good at that," she said, noting that social service agencies need to do more long-term thinking, planning and collaborating.
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