Through the process of evaluating nonprofits in the Brazos Valley and hearing about their missions, I have discovered much about the needs in my community, especially about the complexities surrounding the situations of those who are trapped in poverty. What makes many of the organizations in the Brazos Valley special is that their focus is greater than simply handing out resources to temporarily make the problems subside. Their goal is to address the root causes of the problems and to truly empower people in their community to make positive changes in their lives.

In particular, one organization has a program that provides educational opportunities and resources for single mothers in crisis situations. They want to partner with these women who go through their program by subsidizing the cost of housing, because they know that for mothers who support their family on a single income the task of covering all the costs of living can seem insurmountable. If a mother has this incentive, she will be able to better provide for herself and her children, possibly become less dependent on the system, and have more hope that she can work to attain a bright future for her family.

Another organization we spoke with provides healthcare for those who do not have insurance. This organization told us that because many of the low-income residents in the Brazos Valley do not have insurance, they feel like they have to put off going to the doctor for as long as possible because of the high costs – but often the problem will continue to intensify until they have to go to the hospital. This only further exacerbates both the medical and financial struggles they are facing. For this reason, the nonprofit hopes to provide a service where lower-income residents in the community can be treated with respect and excellent care without having to incur costly hospital bills or have to postpone treatment until a more serious problem exists.

Because of this class and the conversations I have been able to have with those who are actively engaging in the efforts to help our neighbors in the Brazos Valley, I have a much better understanding of how many different factors contribute to a cycle of poverty, and I feel that I am much better equipped to use my resources to truly help others and address root problems in my community.

by Mallory Smith ’19