Raising Poverty Awareness
Central Missouri Community Action, or CMCA, is working to raise community awareness across the region. CMCA says poverty is the barrier to food, education, housing, health care, transportation and employment. Otis Clark, a CMCA board member, knows poverty well.
"We grew up in poverty, my family and I, from Missouri, down in Blue Hills, Cape Girardeau. We was in poverty all our lives," Clark said.
Clark and members of CMCA are working to fight poverty. They said engaging the community and spreading awareness is the first step in becoming poverty-free.
"We think it's time that the community come together and say we don't accept poverty in Columbia, in Boone County and it's starting to pull in the whole community so that it's not on the back of the social service system, but it's the whole community making it a priority and taking responsibility for it," Darin Preis, CMCA Executive Director, said.
Currently, a family of four is considered to be in poverty only if they earn less than $20,000 a year. Many say this isn't a livable wage.
CMCA Community Services Supervisor Adam Tipton said that individual agencies in the area can target a smaller part of the problem.
"It could just be volunteering their time. Donate financial resources to any agency, call up an agency, a local non-profit agency that work with low-income individuals and ask, 'How I can help?'," Adam Tipton CMCA Community Services Supervisor, said.
CMCA says they provide programs like employment and job training, family development programs and financial budgeting so that people can begin to find their way out of poverty.