Eliminating Poverty in Your Community

Ashley Fan, National Acteens Panelist

During the summer of 2017, I went to a missions camp in Washington, D.C. with my youth group. This camp was meant to teach us about urban poverty so we visited different places throughout the city to learn about poverty and to discover how we could get involved in eliminating poverty.

Ministries Who Fight Poverty

We went to different places throughout the week, including Bread for the World, DC Central Kitchen, the Capital Area Food Bank, and the Christ House. These groups are all fighting poverty in different ways. I loved seeing each one at work.

At the DC Central Kitchen and the Capital Area Food Bank, we got to help with solutions to food deserts and local poverty. We cut vegetables at the kitchen and learned about better ways to provide people with healthy food, instead of cheap or more easily accessible food.

The Christ House takes injured, homeless men off the street and provides food, long-term shelter, and medical care. It was started by a church in DC. Even when the church was dissolved by the congregation, their service to the community didn’t cease. This ministry had the greatest impact on me.

People Overcoming Poverty

The next night, we sat down for our nightly worship session, and one of the Christ House residents came to talk to us. He explained his journey through leaving home at a young age, trying to find money and jobs, and all of the things he resorted to. He mentioned trips in and out of hospitals for multiple illnesses and injuries.

Eventually, he told us how the doctors said he would be permanently paralyzed from the waist down. As we all started to express sadness,he laughed and said, “No. Look, I can still walk,” and he stood up with his arms out and a grin on his face. When he sat back down, he told us to trust God’s plan.

I was amazing to meet this man who looked back on many horrible experiences, who held no bitterness towards God.


I learned two main things the week we were in DC. First, that serving people comes in all shapes in sizes. Second, I realized I want to start a nonprofit organization someday.

For the longest time, I believed I was too young to make a real difference. I didn’t even know what I thought it meant to make a difference, I just assumed it would come later in life. 

During this week  I realized that making a difference could mean simply sitting down with a man to play board games and listening to jokes that others had grown tired of.

This week was also the first time I really understood what a nonprofit organization is. I thought “How awesome would it be to start a business that helps people, AND that I could use as a way to spread God’s love to others?”

I came back home filled with ideas about what I could do to continue the things we talked about in DC.

Continuing at Home

I genuinely went into this trip believing I already knew enough about poverty. I grew up in a three bedroom apartment shared with my mom, my older sister, and my little brother. In elementary school, my brother and I got free school lunch because our household income was low enough that we qualified for it.

As it turned out, I knew basically nothing about fighting poverty.

A couple months after camp, our Acteens girls helped serve a breakfast for homeless/hungry people in our community through a service at our church. We also started delivering Christmas food baskets to families and people in the area who can’t afford a Christmas dinner.

How You Can Help

Poverty fighting ministries and organizations are in place in many areas, and there are always people in need all around.

One of the easiest ways to find a place to volunteer is to ask around your church or community. There’s always someone who will need help or someone who will know where you can help.

by Ashley Fan, 2019 National Acteens Panelist





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