This is what it looks like when you're part of the working poor.
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Make Room

When Henry was laid off three and a half years ago, his family was forced to leave their house.

The house they were renting had mold in the basement. Though Lisette was working two part-time jobs, they couldn't find another place to live.


GIFs via Make Room/YouTube.

They tried to access programs for people who needed help — but they didn't meet the requirements.

They searched for programs that could help but didn't qualify because they didn't have problems with substance abuse and had some income.

And the homeless shelters they looked at didn't provide for their needs because not all shelters are set up for families. Some wanted to split them up by gender.

Now, they're living in an apartment that doesn't feel like home and costs too much. More than half their income goes to rent and utilities.

Living paycheck-to-paycheck is pretty much standard operating procedure for millions of families in our country.

In fact, paying at least half of monthly income for rent is a reality for about 1 in 4 U.S. renters.

The Great Recession had a lot to do with this.

Roughly 6 million homeowners lost their homes through foreclosure since 2008, which put more pressure on the rental market. And beyond that, a lot of folks who were just getting their start in the working world (hello, 20-somethings) began their adult careers far behind where they should have been.

As of 2013, the typical renter's income had fallen by more than 10% since 2001 (after adjusting for inflation) while the median rent had increased by 5%.

And, according to Make Room, 9 million kids are on the brink of homelessness because their parents can barely afford to pay rent.

The thing is, this is not simply inevitable. It can be fixed.

That's good news for folks like Lisette and Henry.

Make Room is a nonprofit campaign for renters that is working to fix this problem by:

  • creating a network of companies, nonprofits, advocates, and policymakers to invest in affordable homes and advocate for change.
  • campaigning to change policies and increase both the affordability and development of rentals.
  • raising awareness among policymakers and the media about the economic squeeze renters face today.
  • telling the stories of people who rent and organizing forums where the conversations begin (or continue). This includes working with celebrities and songwriters who are committed to the cause and want to help spread the word.

Recently, Carly Rae Jepsen stepped up to help spread the word.

To bring in even more supporters and awareness, Make Room regularly holds concerts in homes like the Duartes'. Earlier this year, Jepsen stopped by to perform some of the biggest pop hits.

What a treat! Check out the whole concert!

Help support Make Room's efforts in 2016 for families like the Duartes and 11 million households in need.

To help Make Room do great stuff like pass initiatives in key places and increase the supply of affordable homes, check out their holiday challenge. It's a gift worth considering this holiday season.

Listen to the Duarte family's emotional story here. It might strike a chord:

Because everyone should be able to live in a safe, affordable home.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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via Fox 5 / YouTube

Back in February, northern Virginia was experiencing freezing temperatures, so FOX 5 DC's Bob Barnard took to the streets to get the low down. His report opens with him having fun with some Leesburg locals and trying his hand at scraping ice off their parked cars.

But at about the 1:50 mark, he was interrupted by an unaccompanied puppy running down the street towards the news crew.

The dog had a collar but there was no owner in sight.

Barnard stopped everything he was doing to pick the dog up off the freezing road to keep it safe. "Forget the people we talked to earlier, I want to get to know this dog," he told his fellow reporters back in the warm newsroom.

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Courtesy of CeraVe
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"I love being a nurse because I have the honor of connecting with my patients during some of their best and some of their worst days and making a difference in their lives is among the most rewarding things that I can do in my own life" - Tenesia Richards, RN

From ushering new life into the world to holding the hand of a patient as they take their last breath, nurses are everyday heroes that deserve our respect and appreciation.

To give back to this community that is always giving so selflessly to others, CeraVe® put out a call to nurses to share their stories for a chance to be featured in Heroes Behind the Masks, a digital content series shining a light on nurses who go above and beyond to provide safe and quality care to patients and their communities.

First up: Tenesia Richards, a labor and delivery nurse working in New York City who, in addition to her regular job, started a community outreach program in a homeless shelter that houses expectant mothers for up to one year postpartum.

Tenesia | Heroes Behind the Masks presented by CeraVe www.youtube.com

Upon learning at a conference that black mothers in the U.S. die at three to four times the rate of white mothers, one of the widest of all racial disparities in women's health, Richards decided to take further action to help her community. She, along with a handful of fellow nurses, volunteered to provide antepartum, childbirth and postpartum education to the women living at the shelter. Additionally, they looked for other ways to boost the spirits of the residents, like throwing baby showers and bringing in guest speakers. When COVID-19 hit and in-person gatherings were no longer possible, Richards and her team found creative workarounds and created holiday care packages for the mothers instead.

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