Families say poverty not always obvious, but still crushing

3 years 7 months 4 days 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 - University officials announced a record breaking fundraising year on Wednesday. In 2018, the University of Missouri raised more... More >>
5 days ago Wednesday, July 11 2018 Jul 11, 2018 Wednesday, July 11, 2018 6:04:00 AM CDT July 11, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — The state of Missouri will pay a former female prison guard $800,000 to settle a sexual... More >>
5 days ago Wednesday, July 11 2018 Jul 11, 2018 Wednesday, July 11, 2018 5:18:56 AM CDT July 11, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — An ethics complaint filed Tuesday alleges two groups connected to former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens were... More >>
5 days ago Tuesday, July 10 2018 Jul 10, 2018 Tuesday, July 10, 2018 11:16:00 PM CDT July 10, 2018 in News
PLEASANT HOPE (AP) — A 28-year-old woman who was seriously burned in an explosion at a southwest Missouri pyrotechnics company... More >>
5 days ago Tuesday, July 10 2018 Jul 10, 2018 Tuesday, July 10, 2018 9:51:19 PM CDT July 10, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Boone County Clerk Taylor Burks said in comparison to the midterm election in 2014, this year's registration numbers... More >>
5 days ago Tuesday, July 10 2018 Jul 10, 2018 Tuesday, July 10, 2018 9:35:00 PM CDT July 10, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Veterans at the Truman VA are feeling frustrated with what they call a "lack of consistency" in their... More >>
5 days ago Tuesday, July 10 2018 Jul 10, 2018 Tuesday, July 10, 2018 8:00:00 PM CDT July 10, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Vice President Mike Pence will be in Kansas City, Missouri, on Wednesday. He will attend a fundraising... More >>
5 days ago Tuesday, July 10 2018 Jul 10, 2018 Tuesday, July 10, 2018 5:52:00 PM CDT July 10, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - The Columbia Police Department has arrested a woman in connection with a residential fire in northeast Columbia. ... More >>
5 days ago Tuesday, July 10 2018 Jul 10, 2018 Tuesday, July 10, 2018 5:13:00 PM CDT July 10, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Starbucks announced Monday that it would eliminate plastic straws from use in all stores by 2020. While this... More >>
5 days ago Tuesday, July 10 2018 Jul 10, 2018 Tuesday, July 10, 2018 3:08:00 PM CDT July 10, 2018 in News
CNN - The last remaining member of the Wild Boars soccer team and their coach have been pulled out of... More >>
5 days ago Tuesday, July 10 2018 Jul 10, 2018 Tuesday, July 10, 2018 2:36:00 PM CDT July 10, 2018 in News
BOONE COUNTY - Wednesday is the last day to register to vote in the August primary election and both the... More >>
5 days ago Tuesday, July 10 2018 Jul 10, 2018 Tuesday, July 10, 2018 1:55:00 PM CDT July 10, 2018 in News
LAKE OZARK - A 14-year-old boy was struck by an SUV in Lake Ozark Tuesday morning. He was taken to... More >>
5 days ago Tuesday, July 10 2018 Jul 10, 2018 Tuesday, July 10, 2018 1:02:00 PM CDT July 10, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - A fair full of tradition and fun for the Jefferson City area abandoned its theme with less than... More >>
6 days ago Tuesday, July 10 2018 Jul 10, 2018 Tuesday, July 10, 2018 11:48:00 AM CDT July 10, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA – The Boone County Commission unanimously approved the usage of NARCAN in its county jail Tuesday. NARCAN is a... More >>
6 days ago Tuesday, July 10 2018 Jul 10, 2018 Tuesday, July 10, 2018 11:15:00 AM CDT July 10, 2018 in News
RICHLAND - Deputies and police officers found an "improvised explosive device" while searching a residence in Richland for narcotics Monday,... More >>
6 days ago Tuesday, July 10 2018 Jul 10, 2018 Tuesday, July 10, 2018 11:04:00 AM CDT July 10, 2018 in News
KANSAS CITY (AP) - Authorities say a 3-year-old boy has died two days after he wandered away from home and... More >>
6 days ago Tuesday, July 10 2018 Jul 10, 2018 Tuesday, July 10, 2018 10:27:40 AM CDT July 10, 2018 in News
MOKANE - The Mokane Board of Aldermen appointed a new mayor and two new aldermen Monday night after months of... More >>
6 days ago Tuesday, July 10 2018 Jul 10, 2018 Tuesday, July 10, 2018 6:13:00 AM CDT July 10, 2018 in News
OSCELOA, Mo. (AP) — Authorities say at least three people have drowned over the weekend in Missouri. The Missouri... More >>
6 days ago Tuesday, July 10 2018 Jul 10, 2018 Tuesday, July 10, 2018 5:38:00 AM CDT July 10, 2018 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 90°
12pm 91°
1pm 92°
2pm 92°
3pm 92°