By Catherine Witherspoon SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) – The United Nations began recognizing October 17 as the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty since 1993. This day was designed to promote awareness for the need to end poverty and destitution in all countries. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon of the United Nations declared that, “On this day we recommit to think, decide and act together against extreme poverty — and plan for a world where no-one is left behind. Our aim must be prosperity for all, not just a few.”
Here in Syracuse the issue of poverty has never been more real and extreme. Listed as the 23rd poorest city in the U.S by the census in 2013, this day sheds some much needed light on the need to end poverty right here, at home. Visions For Change is the leading anti-poverty non-profit organization in the Central New York area and helps to eradicate poverty everyday. At Visions For Change, they recognize that poverty creates severe financial hardship for communities, states and our nation. Through the “Choosing to Thrive” program they allow the community to get involved in the fight against poverty.
“We go out into the community, have other people go out and set up choosing to thrive sites; We’d just help them so we can get as many people out of poverty as we possibly can. That’s what it’s all about. That’s our mission to help people become self-sufficient,” said Rhonda O’Connor the Director of Community Development at Visions For Change.
The first step in becoming self-sufficient is changing the mindset because generational poverty affects the probability of getting out of poverty. “You know when you are in poverty all of your relationships are with people that are in poverty, so it’s hard to have a vision for what life would be like for me if I wasn’t in poverty,” said Ron Voxx a trainer at Visions For Change.
Onondaga County has an estimated 48,000 people living in poverty. Judith Isles, a participant at Visions For Change, and recently employed through the organizations training and is one of the many faces of the people living in poverty here in Syracuse. “They are teaching us that poverty isn’t something you have to live in forever. There is a way out. You can rise from poverty and there are people there willing to help you,” said Isles.