Families say poverty not always obvious, but still crushing

3 years 5 months 2 weeks ago Thursday, December 11 2014 Dec 11, 2014 Thursday, December 11, 2014 10:53:00 AM CST December 11, 2014 in Poverty
By: Lee Anne Denyer, KOMU 8 Reporter
loading

COLUMBIA - There isn't any type of family immune to the hardships of poverty. (See resources for families in need.)

KOMU 8 News asked its viewers who are poor or near poor to share how they believe the face of poverty has changed. We received 120 responses. Three invited us to meet with them as they shared intimate details of their lives, and their finances.

A Christmas tree stands guard in the living of Eric Wright's Columbia home. There, his four boys and his fiance spent a Sunday afternoon coloring and watching their favorite episodes of cartoons, again and again. Shiny, blue ornaments hung as the boys sprawled across the floor coloring.

Despite their young ages (the boys range from one to eight), Wright said he's worked to teach them what the holidays really mean.

"Its not all about materials things, getting presents, it's about being happy with your family and having a roof on your head."

The boys likely won't receive presents this year. Wright said with three months of rent due, on top of his other bills, it's just not in the budget this year.

"Our first priority isn't going out and buying a set of Lego's," he said.

Wright recently completed training for a sales job. He is hoping to find work as soon as possible. Despite the stress that is inevitable when both parents are unemployed, Wright and his fiance try to keep the adult conversations between themselves.

"Kids are pretty easy to accommodate and keep happy. It's not a kids place to worry about bills. They don't know any better," Wright said.

Some needs take priority.

"Electricity really doesn't matter if you don't have a roof on your head," he said "I guess the roof is the most important right now."

But Wright isn't alone. The Missouri Association for Community Action outlines the state's most current poverty statistics in its 2014 State of the State Poverty Report. It says, in Boone County, one in every five households qualify as "in poverty" by federally set guidelines. In Callaway, the number drops slightly at 15 percent.

John Huckstep lives in Fulton and uses city resources on a day-to-day basis. He eats regularly at the John Harris Community Center. He said he's found his family there.

"I know I've got friends here and I know if I needed help, they'd help me," he said.

Huckstep worked in law enforcement early in his life, but health issues forced him to leave his job. 

He was once married. His wife and their son have both moved on, but Huckstep said he's found a family through the soup kitchen. There, he and the other attendants support each other through difficult financial times.

Many of the people who responded to our survey expressed how important it is to them to lean on each other and be open about financial troubles.

Dena McMasters said she relies on her children and sisters who live nearby. She shares her home with her dog, Bella. Seven years ago, she worked up the courage to leave a physically and mentally abusive husband, she said.

"I went from a pretty nice lifestyle, working as a compliance officer, to literally scrounging things from flea markets and asking friends for dishes I could have if they were going to throw them away," she said.

She said she feared for her life and had to get away. Her ex-husband is currently incarcerated for unrelated offenses.

Resources are available for those living at or near poverty, including organizations serving people who don't qualify for government assistance:

Voluntary Action Committee - it's mission is "To help low-income individuals and families bridge the gaps between crisis and stability and improve quality of life in Boone County."

Heart of Missouri United Way - It's stated goal is to mobilize "the caring power of community resources to serve people in need in mid-Missouri."

Missouri Association for Community Action - Its website provides a long list of resources and includes a map of where to get help.

Below are our full interviews with Tim Rich, Executive Director at the United Way for the mid-Missouri area, and Dr. Troy Hogg, Principal at Benton Elementary School.

 

Related Stories

More News

Grid
List
COLUMBIA – The Columbia City Council discussed a recent engineering study today centering on increasing traffic flow east of Columbia.... More >>
3 days ago Thursday, May 24 2018 May 24, 2018 Thursday, May 24, 2018 7:11:00 PM CDT May 24, 2018 in News
LAKE OZARK - The Missouri State Highway Patrol is encouraging people to practice safe boating ahead of Memorial Day weekend.... More >>
3 days ago Thursday, May 24 2018 May 24, 2018 Thursday, May 24, 2018 6:55:00 PM CDT May 24, 2018 in News
HOLTS SUMMIT - After two months without a police department, New Bloomfield finally has one thanks to the city of... More >>
3 days ago Thursday, May 24 2018 May 24, 2018 Thursday, May 24, 2018 5:50:00 PM CDT May 24, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - The University of Missouri has agreed to pay $50,000 to settle a lawsuit filed after Athletic Director Jim... More >>
3 days ago Thursday, May 24 2018 May 24, 2018 Thursday, May 24, 2018 4:54:00 PM CDT May 24, 2018 in Sports
MONROE CITY - Some people diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease fight back, as did Michael Crager, the founder of Rock Steady... More >>
3 days ago Thursday, May 24 2018 May 24, 2018 Thursday, May 24, 2018 4:18:00 PM CDT May 24, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY – The U.S. Department of Health and Senior Services made changes to a family planning program, which the... More >>
3 days ago Thursday, May 24 2018 May 24, 2018 Thursday, May 24, 2018 3:56:00 PM CDT May 24, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - In sometimes heated testimony, members of a Special House Investigative Committee looking into the Eric Greitens... More >>
3 days ago Thursday, May 24 2018 May 24, 2018 Thursday, May 24, 2018 3:54:00 PM CDT May 24, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - A report on a statewide rape kit audit shows that there are at least 4,889 untested sexual... More >>
3 days ago Thursday, May 24 2018 May 24, 2018 Thursday, May 24, 2018 3:23:00 PM CDT May 24, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - With the holiday weekend approaching, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and Save Our Air Medical Resources (SOAR)... More >>
3 days ago Thursday, May 24 2018 May 24, 2018 Thursday, May 24, 2018 1:28:00 PM CDT May 24, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA – More than 36 million drivers will hit the road during Memorial Day Weekend, according to AAA. Just... More >>
3 days ago Thursday, May 24 2018 May 24, 2018 Thursday, May 24, 2018 12:20:00 PM CDT May 24, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - A statewide program bringing together prisoners and puppies is celebrating a major milestone. A four-month-old redbone... More >>
3 days ago Thursday, May 24 2018 May 24, 2018 Thursday, May 24, 2018 10:15:00 AM CDT May 24, 2018 in News
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump says he thinks Kim Jong Un wants to do "what's right" but says it's... More >>
3 days ago Thursday, May 24 2018 May 24, 2018 Thursday, May 24, 2018 10:09:00 AM CDT May 24, 2018 in News
RANDOLPH COUNTY - A Huntsville man pleaded guilty to murder on Tuesday and received a life sentence with no chance... More >>
3 days ago Thursday, May 24 2018 May 24, 2018 Thursday, May 24, 2018 8:37:00 AM CDT May 24, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - The Missouri Adult Education and Literacy (AEL) through the Mid-Mo Adult Learning Center honored 25 adults at... More >>
3 days ago Thursday, May 24 2018 May 24, 2018 Thursday, May 24, 2018 8:10:00 AM CDT May 24, 2018 in News
BUNNIK, Netherlands (AP) — An international team of investigators said Thursday that detailed analysis of video images and photos... More >>
3 days ago Thursday, May 24 2018 May 24, 2018 Thursday, May 24, 2018 5:58:00 AM CDT May 24, 2018 in News
NEW YORK (AP) — A federal judge ruled Wednesday that President Donald Trump is violating the First Amendment when he... More >>
4 days ago Wednesday, May 23 2018 May 23, 2018 Wednesday, May 23, 2018 7:10:00 PM CDT May 23, 2018 in Continuous News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — A federal district court in St. Louis has ruled that the Missouri prison system must... More >>
4 days ago Wednesday, May 23 2018 May 23, 2018 Wednesday, May 23, 2018 5:48:22 PM CDT May 23, 2018 in News
MID-MISSOURI - If you look at the forecast you can easily tell that summer is here early. Don't forget that... More >>
4 days ago Wednesday, May 23 2018 May 23, 2018 Wednesday, May 23, 2018 5:43:00 PM CDT May 23, 2018 in Weather
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 79°
1am 75°
2am 74°
3am 73°
4am 73°