Local Rendition: Poverty, Inc.

To learn more about Poverty, Inc., click here.

All photos by Christena Dowsett • christenadowsettphoto.com

Poverty often confronts those who are not impoverished through statistics. But poverty for those of us who live in nice homes is sometimes a world away from our hearts. It's not that we don't want to care, we really do. And we are often moved with compassion. But we frequently do not know how to care.

As Americans, one of the ways we've been told we can help most is in giving our money. So we do it faithfully. We give our money to causes that pull at our hearts. And yet, we often have the sense that this is not all there is to give. So we add service hours or volunteering to the list, as a way to "give back" -- and for me at least, as a way to ease my conscious.

What if our consciousnesses need not be eased? From a perspective of having our needs met, we know we have it good.

What if we are to live in tension with our guilt, to allow it to call us to more? More doesn't mean changing the world. More means taking baby steps, like rolling the window down and shaking the hand of that (obnoxious) pandhandler.  

While Poverty, Inc. confronts systems of giving that perpetuate poverty abroad, we at The Human Impact are particularly interested in systems that perpetuate poverty here. Since we can show up physically to help our brothers and sisters in our hometowns much more easily than we can show up physically and consistently abroad, we propose our own cities and neighborhoods as testing ground for the concepts presented.

Specifically where we work, with homeless men and women, we often ask the question, "What will really bring about change and how do the chronically homeless really move out of homelessness?"

There are no easy answers or quick solutions. But we must get our hands dirty. To paraphrase the film's producer Mark Weber, we need to get comfortable with the nuances and the long-term commitment required to rethink how we empower the poor.

Our holiday call to action comes from our name, The Human Impact. We know that not everyone is moved by homelessness, but we know everyone has a space or place they're called. What would it look like if we collectively took one small step to care for one person in a unique way this holiday season? Maybe it is rolling your window down and exchanging names with that panhandler. Maybe it's inviting your neighbor over for dinner. Maybe it's leaving a card on your coworker's desk. 

If you do it, you could even get a picture and use this hashtag to share and inspire: #myhumanimpact.