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Choices, economics affect poverty level

While teens in North Fresno are preoccupied by driving SUVs, shopping at the mall and hanging out with friends at River Park, some residents in south Fresno are suffering from hunger and poverty.

“Teens need to start opening their eyes to the world and get involved,” Ericlee Gilmore, math teacher, said. “If the parents have taught their teens the difference between wants and needs, teenagers will be more involved and thankful for what they have.

“Some of the staff on campus try to persuade students to become involved in community activities so they can see what the world is really like.”

Some young people rarely think twice about decisions they will make in the future. According to H. Spees, One By One Leadership CEO and pastor at Northwest, many adults do not understand the choices they currently make contribute to poverty.

“I think there are two main causes for poverty in cities,” Spees said. “One of the causes for poverty in my opinion is the abuse of drugs and alcohol. The addiction causes people to lose their jobs, their marriage and leaves them on the streets.

“Another cause I think that contributes to poverty is divorce. People don’t like to say that, but it is true. There are a lot of homeless women with children left on the streets because of divorce.”

Many shelter homes and missions are set up in the city to provide shelter for people that live on the streets.

“My parents are the managers of Fresno Rescue Mission Family Shelter,” Melissa Bump, ’05, said. “We are a shelter home for the homeless families and women without children. I’ve lived there for about four years now and I wouldn’t trade it in for anything because I love it and it’s my home. It’s a nice experience to meet someone different everyday.”

Several families across Fresno County undergo the trouble of having to survive one day at a time.

“Many families in Caruthers suffer from not having enough money or not having a job,” Linda Falk, vice principal of Caruthers High School, said. “Sometimes the father of the family will die and the mother will be left alone without experience of work, which forces the children to get jobs. Many teenagers drop out from school to work on the fields to help their family.”

Teachers that teach at low-income schools worry about students not being able to purchase items needed for sports.

“Mostly we worry about student’s not being able to buy the extra things needed for sports or other activities,” Falk said. “They may be able to join the sport but can’t buy the bags, sweats and uniforms that are needed.”

On the other hand, some students on campus do not worry about being able to afford extra curriculum activities.

“For every sport I play there is a fee of $100,” Katie Jacobson, ’05, said. “I am lucky that I know my parents can pay the fee. I don’t worry about having to do fundraisers to obtain extra money for activities.”

However, many campus teenagers and young elementary students put time and effort into helping the needy by collecting canned foods, donating clothes, giving toys to young kids and preparing baskets of food and clothes for the holidays.

“When my sixth grade class heard about the fire victims they started asking questions on what they could do to help,” Leigh Ann Neace, sixth grade teacher, said. “I told them that if they wanted to help they would have to do it on their own. The sixth graders collected blankets, stuffed animals, books, Bibles, tooth brushes, tooth paste and more.”

Campus highschoolers had the opportunity to support children who might not otherwise have received christmas presents when the Marine Corps dropped off a box for Toys for Tots in the second week of November.

Kids and adults can help reduce poverty through an organization called World Vision. It is a program where a person or a group of persons can support a kid in poverty over seas by sending $25 a month to the organization. World Vision then distributes the gifts to the needy families.

For more information on World Vision International, go to or go online to The Fresno Rescue Mission at

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