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Mythbusting “what if everything you knew about poverty was wrong” – top 10 to do

Mythbusting Poverty

Wrong? Are they sure? Whether a war correspondent, monk, teacher, or… social advocate, Embedded-Have to respect that level of devotion, question, ok so we experienced poverty? Surely some got out? Can their solutions to wealth be highlighted? Or is it useless…

Through 2 decades, a number of Cincinnati teams have engaged in the battle, and can provide answers to the poverty dilemma on a small scale! Is anyone watching? Listening? Can efforts be translated to a large city scale? Nationally? Internationally?

Raves about income inequality, nature vs. nurture (perhaps the absence of both), social justice, welfare reform, … emphasis on leveling the playing field. So the field isn’t level, who gets to dictate the players? Is it simply DOOM being born to the wrong family?

The latest buzz over a Mother Jones magazine article “What if Everything You Knew About Poverty Was Wrong?” features rave reviews, garnered considerable radio and TV time, … becoming the new mantra of social agencies. Cincinnati is 3rd, when it comes to children in poverty… yet everyday there are those escaping destitution’s gnarly bonds.

Simply throwing up your hands? The problem has grown too big!

Downtown today, Cincinnati’s Mayor acknowledged that the comeback will take community effort unparalleled. The Church of Cincinnati (organization including most denominations) has drawn a line in the sand, supporting Citylink & other measures to move forward with effective reform! Other organizations are already in place: City Gospel Mission, Cincinnati Character Clubs, ….

In response to the Top 10 “Wrong” list , offering a “Right” that features how nearly 20k students over 2 decades have & will escape poverty:

1-3) “Single moms and absent dads (their emphasis on black dads) are the problem”.

We were not designed to parent/live alone: the average single parent is soooo tired, has no training, overwhelmed (family dysfunction), lonely, bombarded... As a result, we see kids ignored, over medicated, TV/Gaming addicted, and handed off to …. there is no doubt, they love them, just too much for 1!

Then ADD 1 day a week and/or month noncustodial parent visits without a focused and/or agreed agenda (Spoiling/special treats) stress quotient explodes in an already volatile situation.

The reality is a Spider web of extended ½ siblings, boyfriends, girlfriends, aunties, uncles, grandparents… are often difficult to graph, let alone live. Can fit “it takes a village” , more often leads to additional rejections and ugly confrontations.

Hollywood is consistently modeling the “single parent life”. When you have millions It works, when you are poor = drama and fights.

The Answer:

A. Trained & dedicated MENTORS = Life Modeling affects positive decision making

In response to the rise of single parent households (41% of the 2013 birthrate), in 1984, Small accountability groups were formed. These sponsors (true unpaid volunteers receive background checks, training, support, … and hard work) open their lives, train, and follow a group of 8 to 12 students through high school. It's unconditional love with a component of "in your face" to keep on the straight and narrow.

Their whole focus is on the student, their journey, their experiences, giving them the tools to make great decisions. Graduation rates, NON drug & Acohol usage, teen pregnancy avoided, faith commitments, character development, testing... Positives continue to unfold.

They support the parenting process, and enforce outcomes.

They spend time each year deliberately dissecting friendships, relationships, marriage, and love! Another portion is dedicated to finance, career, college, and goal setting. Plus physical activity, after all, we are God's temple! Living in obesity can't help anyone.

No magic sweeping of the wand= time+simple open, consistent, ADULT dialogues with positive peer pressure. Other groups using mentoring have replicated this success!

B. The demise of poverty=Healthy Relationships.

o Wealth is often tied to marriage , staying married (vs 51% divorced/battle)

o Permanent relationships (familial and friendships) assure safety.

o Predictable Patterns offer security.

o Abuse and neglect with NON-birth parents, guardians, girl/boyfriends can be broken.

o Connection to faith, and/or community groups fill gaps.

4) “Poor people are lazy”.

In our discovery, those that complete what they finish-Get Out!

Perfect example, GMA featured the most lauded high school student this year, 17 year old, Kwasi Enin, accepted to ALL eight (8) Ivy League schools. No April Fool’s joke, he has reached for the stars. How is that possible, with the deck stacked against him? He is an immigrant with no special means… plays violin, scored a 2,250 out of 2,300 on the SAT, top 2% of his class… his work ethic, and family support has provided opportunity!

Much of the frustration comes from working so hard, and not getting anywhere. The average American NOT receiving any government help has a longer work week with less pay.

Finding fraud in large systems will only remedy itself, when people are brought to justice. Not just heard, but seen welfare system abuse? Disability frauds? Even if they are family? Don’t just complain about it, do something = Turn them in!

5) “If you’re not officially poor, you’re doing ok”.

Talk to the bulk of middle Americans these days… not sure where they even came up with this one. Who is saying that? Few are feeling optimistic, even the top 1% are still tightening wallets!

A consumer economy has imploded; redefining expectations, as well as Needs vs Wants. Entitlement is still high for the latest electronics, new vehicles, bigger homes, gourmet food, … while credit card bottom lines ever increase to appease a false standard of living.

The middle class is clearly NOT doing ok under the burden of taxes (government budget?), and the loss of manufacturing positions. The largest growing sector in our nation is now SERVICE, with average rates that don’t near union wages. Raising the minimum wage will not increase opportunity, rather increase employer burden eliminating those first time jobs.

The greatest concern is, or should be for the late Baby Boomers age 54 to 65… most have not adequately prepared for retirement (only 1 out of 6); are taking care of aging parents, while helping children, grandchildren, … (weddings, college, home/car payments, ….).

The answer is 3 part prong OUT: Save, Save, Save…., Be content (drive 10 year old cars, use 4 year old computers, eat in, ….), and Be a lifelong learner (constantly updating skills to maintain your employment).

6) “Go to college, get out of poverty”.

Getting a degree signifies huge things to employers-This guy/gal can finish what they start!

A college degree will ALWAYS open more doors than it closes. Some majors have no guarantees. Having the right high technology/engineering, accounting, computer systems degree will take years off a career path to the top, and will be highly compensated. So many degree programs are offered, only to enrich the university and staff.

Polling comments from 20+ yr old new graduates reveal deep insights:

  • o “I didn’t realize a degree in social work, would mean I only make $22,000 a year.”
  • o “I have a degree in Classical Music/Opera, and can’t find a troupe that doesn’t tour….”
  • o “School districts are still cutting, Teaching positions are very difficult to find…”
  • o “Starting out at this ________ (fortune 500 company), I will only make $24,000…”
  • o “My medical internship will require tons of hours and little pay, but once I specialize…”
  • o “Getting my graduate degree now will lengthen my work at McDonald’s, yet I …”
  • o “I completed my criminal justice degree, but no police/fire departments are hiring…”
  • o “I refuse to work at McDonald’s or Wendy’s, I’ll continue to live with my parents…”
  • o “I’m working for AmeriCorp right now, little pay, but I love it!”

The way to avoid this Pit and/or delay in income: Great insight and wisdom, terrific career counseling PRIOR to college planning and degree can bust any false expectations.

Income is not always the key to satisfaction. Younger generations value flexibility, freedom, creativity, ….

7) “We’re winning the war on poverty”.

Poverty has indeed increased 160% since 1996, so have the war budgets against it. Some states have seen reform, only to fall back in step.

The average American wants to help those in need, they don’t want to be hard hearted-is effective accountability too much?

The only permanent positive results are when intervention takes place. When people expend the effort to get help, and then are offered one (1) on one (1) assistance. Pouring more money into government programs (Speak to any caseworker with an average 87 families on their plate, there is simply too too much for them to investigate) will only lend to working the system.

CityLink is the perfect link for this type of focus… taking the working poor, who are willing to expend effort, through a process to quadruple their achievement of economic success.

8) “The days of old ladies eating cat food are over”.

We can NOT turn our backs on the “Greatest Generation”! Working with so many churches that are generational, WW II veteran groups, sewing circles… these people have survived The Great Depression, Rationing, World Wars,… many are the first ones to sacrifice and give without complaint.

The latest conversion to the Affordable Care Act has resulted in many losses in care, fear of change, doctors retiring, and may well undermine their life system.

Keeping them CONNECTED vs isolated is the key here. There are a ton of programs from “Meals on Wheels” to “Adult Daycare” to “Senior Community Groups” to … making sure those programs are adequately funded. Making a conscious effort to check on elderly neighbors. How? Invite them for lunch, or over for dinner; checking on them this severe winter or summer (electric on? Ac working?); providing lawn care; rides to doctors; let them tutor or mentor; provide babysitting…. So many options! Their wisdom and insight to life is well worth any small inconvenience.

9) “The homeless are drunk street people”.

A 2014 area poll of 1,000+ households performed by U.C. offered a broad demographic defining homeless: kids, teen runaways, families, mentally challenged, alcoholics, drug abusers, veterans, pedophiles… A portion fit the stereotype, yet what drives a dismissal of this group? Homeless is MORE than the grimy guy asking for alms on our street corners.

Many new homeless (since 2008) have been driven by foreclosures, loss of jobs, loss of family income (divorce, girl/boyfriends moving on, …),… into the Section 8 housing market. 90% of homeless families have NOT received any form of counseling, and/or budgeting help.

Only private organizations that provide WHOLE (physical, mental and spiritual) life plans are successful in moving families up the income scale. Our indifference could be deep seated shame and/or guilt. We don’t know how to help, can’t understand the nuances, and some are only a few steps from being homeless themselves.

Developing compassion and empathy for this invisible group is daunting. So dehumanizing.. a few reports of people getting nasty, or beating up homeless people… what is that about? Is it strictly power?

Elizabeth Chapin wrote … “shame almost certainly leads to hiding wrong behavior, for fear of rejection and abandonment, because of the idea that doing something wrong, means there is something fundamentally wrong with the core of who I am.” Read more at

10) “Handouts are bankrupting us.”

If not our pocketbooks, dignity is being robbed. A one time gift is pleasing, an overall support system is no different than being on a lifelong breathing apparatus. People may live, but they will not thrive!

True compassion allows for a safety net, similarly to a baby that stands, steps, and then runs… people need to achieve on their own 2 feet. Even the ultra richest of the rich are now favoring this option too. Look at Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Gloria Vanderbilt, …. They have all stated that their offspring have to earn their way to the table. Hard work creates character and a future.

When the article came up with their government %s = definitely NOT factoring all costs: housing assistance, childcare, early preschool, college tuition, job training, food stamps, free breakfast/lunch/dinner @ schools, parenting classes, resource offices @ schools, foster care, teen runaway outlets, drug/alcohol rehabilitation, medical resources, counseling, transportation, social work, abuse/criminal systems (juvenile/adult), enforcement, and so many other areas…

Effective functional families don’t receive handouts, nor do they expect help on an ongoing basis. Even the Amish come together to build a new barn, the community doesn’t stick around to assure every aspect of life continues.

Action steps aside, getting involved with 1 impoverished family in a healthy dynamic way, can help wipe poverty out in our lifetime!

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