We can overcome economic inequality, but what about the poverty of the spirit?

Article appears on newsworks.org.

By Mitch Little, Executive Director, Mayor’s Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity

Joy comes with the morning. That’s what the psalms teach us: Every trial, every tribulation, can and must be endured — that, with perseverance and purity of purpose, we can — we shall — overcome.

It’s the message of hope I attempted to impart to my team in the Mayor’s Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity after the disturbing events in Charlottesville. In truth, this extraordinary group always seems to be the ones lifting me, with their resolve, determination, and abiding goodness.

We have the privilege of helping Mayor Kenney coordinate and execute a plan to combat poverty in our city, allowing Philadelphia’s low-income residents to realize economic security and move into the middle class.

We have an ambitious, aggressive plan to accelerate the path out of poverty for our fellow citizens. Efforts, which include standout programs like PowerCorps PHL and the Center for Employment Opportunities, are wide-ranging and collectively focused on expanding opportunities for everyone, from recent high school graduates to those re-entering the workforce after incarceration.

But despite our best efforts, our job is not yet complete. For too many of our fellow Philadelphians, each morning brings the joys of life and family, yes, but also the hard realities and struggles of a life in poverty.

And let us be clear: Being poor is not a lifestyle choice. It does not reveal character flaws. Although, coping with it does require more character than we ought to expect from one another.

Which brings me back to Charlottesville.

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