“Empty pockets never held anyone back. Only empty heads and empty hearts can do that.” -- Norman Vincent Peale --
Consider for a moment, this planet known as Earth. Picture the change of seasons, the phases of the
moon, the rise and fall of the tide, the everyday passage of morning to dusk. These events occur day
after day, month after month, year after year. These are all examples of what is called a cycle; a series of
events that repeats itself over and over again unchanged, usually, for an indefinite amount of time. This
world that 6.6 billion human beings call home, flows in cycles, and this works out well for the majority of
the population. There is a certain comfort imparted by the consistency of this similitude. Comfort,
however, for some, is the last thing this repetition provides. Although these people, just like everyone
else, see the seasons change and the days come and go, their perceptions are somewhat skewed, by yet
another cycle. For these people, the only security is in knowing there is no security. All they can rely on
is unreliability. The only thing they can be certain of is uncertainty. Yet, there is but a single difference
that separates them from the rest of the world. These people were born in shackles, given a life sentence
before life ever began. One by one these innocent souls came into this world, only to be immediately
pulled in and swallowed alive by the perpetual maelstrom, the cycle of poverty.
Although poverty has existed since the beginning of recorded history, thanks to the work of many
devoted volunteers, there may be hope. These young men and women have chosen to make a
difference in their homeland by joining an organization devoted to defeating destitution and incinerating
indigence. This organization, officially founded in 1993, is known as AmeriCorps (“History”). Since its
inception, AmeriCorps volunteers have had the seemingly impossible task of fighting poverty in America.
Through diligent effort and determination, though, many programs and tactics have been put into effect.
One particularly intriguing method AmeriCorps has employed is the usage of after school programs for at-
risk children and teenagers. These programs have a phenomenal effect on young people, parents, and
the surrounding community. If the cycle of poverty is a bicycle wheel spinning out of control, the
implementation of after school programs by the AmeriCorps organization might just be the stick jammed
through the spokes, that brings it to a grinding halt.
So how exactly does one define poverty? According to Webster’s Concise Family Dictionary, poverty is
defined simply as the, “lack of money or material possessions”. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s
website, in 2003, to be considered poverty-stricken, a typical two parent, two child household would have
to earn $18,660 or below. At first glance, this number doesn’t seem substantially low. However, when