DEAR EDITOR:

What an encouragement it has been to have so many community members rally behind MUST Ministries in our effort to provide Summer Lunches to at-risk children. Now in our 24th year of serving lunches during summer break, we are in seven counties and offering help and hope to our most vulnerable little clients.

Specifically, I wanted to respond to the “Teach a man to fish” letter published on June 27. We are grateful Mr. Burton applauded our efforts and he brings up a good point. If MUST is so successful in helping others, why are there ever-increasing numbers of those in poverty and why aren’t they “taught to fish”?

In the past fiscal year, MUST put proverbial fishing poles in the hands of hundreds of clients and 618 of those “caught a job” through our vibrant Workforce Development Program. With MUST workforce staff and volunteers, computer labs, job fairs, certified training and a host of other initiatives, those clients were able to find jobs that lead to stability. Of those many success stories, 315 of them were from the Elizabeth Inn Shelter campus. Amazingly, the total jobs amounted to about $11.3 million added to our local economy.

Additionally, it’s important to note that the fastest growing segment of poverty is suburban poverty. In our service area alone, 475,000 people do not know where their next meal will come from. Sadly, for every $72 of funding designated for urban poverty, $2 goes to the suburbs. Nearly one in five Georgians live in poverty and because of the lack of transportation, affordable housing, affordable childcare and many other obstacles, the thousands of inner-city residents fleeing expensive downtown areas are still finding difficulties in the suburbs.

While no one organization can turn the tide on poverty, MUST helped 33,200 people find help and hope in the past year. We are feeding, housing and clothing those in need as quickly as our team and resources will allow and we are seeing great success among those we serve.

One of our greatest resources is our generous community who give and volunteer. Our small staff could never reach out to the thousands of people we serve — many of whom are “the working poor” and 84% are women and children — without significant community support.

On behalf of the thousands of people whose lives have been immeasurably changed in our 48-year history of serving, thank you.

Rev. Dr. Ike Reighard

President and CEO, MUST Ministries

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