More than 3,000 people walked across the Brooklyn Bridge Saturday to send a message that poverty rates are rising, and services for the poor are that much more critical. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.
Carrying signs with anti-poverty messages, marchers made their way across the Brooklyn Bridge Saturday.
"Well, I'm out here to raise hope for education and income pretty much. Education is the only way to prevent poverty. So that is why I'm out here today: To lend a helping hand to the community," said one march participant.
"After they get out of school it's tough for them. Not everyone is going to go to college. We need to set up some vocational programs, anything we can do," said another.
The march was organized by the United Way of New York City to highlight gaps in income, health and education.
"There has been a reduction in some of these services. Non-profit organizations that provide these services are experiencing drastic cuts because they are just not able to provide the services as they usually can," said Elwanda Young of United Way NYC.
The United Way says one in five New Yorkers live below the poverty line with a household income below $18,000. And for many people in these punishing economic times, it's only getting worse. There are now 1.6 million New Yorkers living in poverty, the highest number since 2000.
Organizers say the way out is to improve education, which means the city, the corporate community and non-profits need to work together.
"Our whole focus is on education to ensure young people reach their full potential and income to ensure that families are financially stable. To ensure that we have healthier communities. That's a tall order," said United Way of New York City CEO Gordon Campbell.
Once in Brooklyn's Cadman Plaza, marchers held a volunteer festival with roughly 40 non-profit organizations looking to recruit.
"If properly prepared, properly engaged volunteers can do anything. We have the best people in the world and we believe we can make it through these lean times," said New York City Chief Service Officer Diane Billings-Burford.
For more information, visit www.unitedwaynyc.org.