By the Mentoring Staff
It may be those things, but poverty entails more than low financial resources. It is also the extent to which an individual goes without emotional, spiritual, mental, and physical support systems. This kind of hardship exists in our area and impacts people we work with and live near. To better equip ourselves, volunteers ,and the public with tools to help those in poverty, we held a training. It was so informative, we wanted to share with you two key things we learned.
1. In Iowa, 15% of children are living in poverty. If the head of a household is female, this rate jumps to 38%. So this is a reality in our area. You may not know all 4,000 children living in poverty in northeast Iowa, but you probably know a few of those kids.
How should we respond? We need to care. Help these kids, single moms and families by beginning a friendship with them or giving them a ride to an appointment or event. As a group we need to fund and volunteer at programs that run in their neighborhoods so that help is consistently available.
2. Two types of poverty exist: generational and situational. If we hope to be successful in helping individuals battle poverty, we must understand where they are coming from. Knowing the two types will help us tailor our approach. Someone living in generational poverty, whose family has lived in poverty for at least two generations, is fighting to survive.As we look to help these people, we need to provide basic needs. However, when coming along side someone in situational poverty, which can generally be traced to a specific incident within their lifetimes, we may need to help develop decision-making skills, set up boundaries, or connect them with a mentor or support group.
As we all open our eyes and are more mindful of this issue, we can help others overcome poverty — the root to many of life’s struggles. When you do interact with someone, don’t make assumptions about their problems. You’re not in their shoes. Instead listen to their perspective and care.
If you’d like to learn more about how to address poverty in your area, we recommend reading Bridges out of Poverty by Ruby K. Payne, or attending a Bridges Out of Poverty Training.