Mentoring Helps Overcome Poverty

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COLUMBIA - Roshall Harvey spends her weekends cleaning up her house and spending time with her daughters, but just a few years ago she was living in a shelter while her girls stayed with an older sibling.

While at the shelter, a case worker gave her the number to Love INC in Columbia. She called and eventually sat down with a life coach.

"At first, I was like 'this woman is not gonna want to hear this mess,'" said Harvey. "I went in there and I just poured out everything."

With the help of that life coach, Harvey has since gotten sober, got a job, and has a place to call home - but it came with a lot of work.

"My life coach was very stern with me, and I needed that," Harvey said.

Tim Rich, Executive Director of the Heart of Missouri United Way, says mentorship programs like the one Harvey found through Love INC are crucial to helping people get out of poverty.

"You have to partner people together. We need people who will walk with us through life if we're walking out of poverty to teach us how the world operates today, and how we can achieve a greater livelihood," Rich said.

He finds people who face generational poverty also often face depression, another big hurdle.

"When you don't feel that there is any way out, there's any way for you to achieve more; when you have to spend your emotional energy as well as your physical energy just putting the basics on your table and in your household, it becomes very difficult to dream about what life could be," said Rich.

That's where Harvey's mentor made a difference. She no longer feels like she's alone.

"Now I can pick up the phone, and say to my life coach, 'hey this is going on. What do you think i should do about this?" said Harvey.

"They're my family, and I couldn't trade them for nothing in the world."

Through Love INC, Harvey has also taken several classes on parenting, managing money, cooking and nutrition.

For more information on Love INC programs, click here.

Other groups in Columbia that offer mentoring services including Granny's House, Boys and Girls Club, and Big Brothers Big Sisters.