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A Helping Hand

December 29, 1985

A pregnant mother and her four small children are being shifted from shelter to shelter; in between they live on the streets. An elderly woman, suffering from a debilitating mental illness, is living in an old automobile with her sole companion--a little dog. An infant, who had just been through the trauma of open-heart surgery, and her mother have no home, no food and little more than the clothes on their backs because they have no income.

These are not isolated incidents, but merely current examples of everyday reality. The pathetic situations described here didn't occur in some remote village in faraway Mexico, in the African sub-Sahara, or the worst part of Harlem, N.Y. No, these factual cases are occurring today, with regularity, right here in North County, in your city, in your neighborhood, on your block.

In November alone, the North County Council Interfaith Crisis Center in Escondido tried to find temporary emergency housing for a record 324 persons--that's a whopping 365% increase over the rate for the same month a year ago. And these figures don't include the 125 men, women and children being sheltered at Prince of Peace Abbey in San Luis Rey Valley, nor the hundreds of migrant workers living in deplorable conditions, such as in spiderholes--foxholes dug into the soil--or those sleeping in Grape Day, Kit Carson or Washington parks in Escondido.

A full 15% of San Diego County's 2.1 million residents are living below the poverty level.

For most residents of affluent North County, these are indeed the best of times. But for growing numbers of our friends and neighbors this remains, unfortunately, the worst of times.

We should all be thankful that we are so fortunate as to be in a position to help those less fortunate than ourselves. Isn't that, after all, what the traditional Christmas spirit was all about?


San Marcos

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