46 million Americans live in poverty
We hear the statistics. 46 million Americans live in poverty and Dallas County has the dubious distinction of having the highest child poverty rate in the nation.
Many of us have assumptions about poverty. Poverty is not just a lack of material resources. One can be poor in relationships or community assets. Poverty is a mindset of lack and it affects the very soul of people and communities. Anthem Strong Families in concert with UNITE Dallas hosted THE COST OF POVERTY EXPERIENCE (COPE). More than 40 people “walked in the shoes” of a family living in poverty or an under-resourced environment. The 3-hour interactive event offered a glimpse into the lives of low-income individuals and their families. This experience was eye-opening for many of the individuals there, including those who thought they understood what an impoverished person’s life is like. We heard, “even though the resources were there I felt myself spiraling…” and, “in trying to navigate the resources I kept asking myself, ‘how am I going to pay for this?”
COPE offers a snapshot of the obstacles that are faced, the decisions that are made, and the consequences that impact families every day. COPE also reveals how the policies and systems within our community help, or hinder, the progress of these families. It’s complicated and can even be life-threatening. The easy thing to say is, “Why don’t they just get a job?” However, it’s much more complicated than that. Anthem Strong Families will host another COPE in the near future. But, in the meantime we ask that you examine your thinking and check your assumptions. As we heard in our experience, “The over-committed can miss a few deadlines. Dieters can take a break from their diet. The busy can take vacations. One cannot take a vacation from poverty” (Mullainathan 2014).
Through our classes and mini-clinics we provide tools to help under resourced communities navigate through life. Whether it’s grief, bullying or understanding more about how to handle money and grappling with depression or stress. Our view is that when we are strong our communities are strong, and poverty affects the essence of that. Please visit www.anthemstrongfamilies.org for more information. And, stay tuned. Another COPE is on the horizon.