Meet Josh Fountaine, one of our United Way summer marketing interns. He shares his thoughts on who people in need really are!
My name is Josh Fountaine and I am one of two marketing interns at United Way of the Greater Triangle. Before I get into my main thought, I want to tell you a little bit about myself. To start with, I will be graduating from North Carolina State University within a few short weeks with my undergraduate degree in sport management.
During the spring semester starting in January, I took on a very taxing internship in arena management that was concurrent with an eighteen credit hour semester at NC State. During that same time frame, I took on an additional job and received additional responsibility at my other job. Between moving to a new apartment, schoolwork, two jobs, and an unpaid internship, I was getting worn down. Burning the candle at both ends was exhausting and had me questioning whether I wanted to complete my degree requirements despite being mere credit hours away from my bachelor’s degree.
My weekday routine consisted of waking up at 6:45 a.m., driving to class at NC State, walking two miles from the parking lot to class, eating lunch in the car on the way to my internship, arriving at the arena and changing into business attire, working my allotted hours for the internship, leaving the arena, changing into my work attire, driving for an hour one-way to work in Wakefield, working until 8 p.m., arriving at home at 9 p.m., working on any school assignments, and finally going to bed around 12 a.m.
While that overview of my daily routine was probably the longest sentence you’ve ever seen in your life, it was only a snapshot of what I had going on. I felt emotionally drained, physically taxed, mentally strained and just plain stressed.
Amidst the flurry of daily activity, I had a revelation one day during my spring semester: I am not the only person in Raleigh, North Carolina with a difficult routine. I stopped and thought for a minute, then realized there were people wondering where their next meal was coming from. According to Feeding America, a non-profit organization dedicated to eradicating hunger in the United States, nearly one out of six Americans don’t know if they will have food to eat today.
Also, people around the United States will not be able to be at ease due to the threat of abuse. A government study indicates that about one out of four women and nearly one out of nine men will suffer from domestic violence in their lives.
Plus, individuals living in the “Land of Opportunity” will be living with daily uncertainty in the face of outright poverty. Almost 37 million Americans live in poverty and are challenged with meeting simple needs that nearly 87% of Americans take for granted.
This is the take home message: these statistics aren’t just numbers on a computer screen or on a piece of paper- they are your neighbors. These numbers are your child’s friends at school or your spouse’s gym buddy. These numbers include the barista you talk to regularly at Starbucks for your daily cup of coffee or even the person in the cubicle next to you at work.
These numbers tell a story and the reality is that you are closer to these people than you initially imagined. Will you help or will we numb ourselves to the point of perceived comfort that these statistics are only numbers on a page and not your best friend from high school?
They are our neighbors.