Poverty isn’t just some obscure concept… It impacts you (and the people you come in contact with) every single day, whether you realize it or not.
Inherently, poverty is about the inability to meet basic needs. It has no one single cause and its effects are different for each and every instance.
Take a moment to sit and imagine a scenario or two:
It’s a blustery mid-January morning in a small northeast Ohio town. You’ve been up all night because your house is 45 degrees inside; you’re holding your young child tightly while wrapped in the only blankets you have because you don’t have the money to fix your heater/buy oil/pay your electric bill.
Your child is hungry. You search through barren cupboards and a refrigerator that is nearly empty to find something—anything—that can be used to create a meal. You haven’t been to the grocery store for over two weeks because you have no money until you get your next paycheck, yet you know that you don’t have enough food to last through the end of the month. You don’t eat so that your child can.
You’re an elderly woman sitting at your dining room table silently counting the money that remains from your monthly social security check. You’re down to your last hundred dollars, so you decide to use that money for food instead of refilling your medication. You cut your remaining pills in half in the hopes that they last until your next check comes in.
Examples of poverty are EVERYWHERE.
The people who can’t pay their utilities are your neighbors—and even your friends. The children who sit shivering in the cold are the children your kids play with at school. The elderly woman who is unable to fill her prescriptions is the person who sits next to you at church.
Poverty’s impact reaches far beyond someone’s home, eventually affecting social and emotional connections. It creates a continuous cycle of events that ultimately make the endless circumstances difficult, if not impossible, to break free from.
The World Bank Organization describes poverty this way: “Poverty is hunger. Poverty is lack of shelter. Poverty is being sick and not being able to see a doctor. Poverty is not having access to school and not knowing how to read. Poverty is not having a job, is fear for the future, living one day at a time.
Poverty has many faces, changing from place to place and across time, and has been described in many ways. Most often, poverty is a situation people want to escape. So poverty is a call to action—for the poor and the wealthy alike—a call to change the world so that many more may have enough to eat, adequate shelter, access to education and health, protection from violence, and a voice in what happens in their communities.”
A Local Look
The percentage of people in Columbiana County living below the poverty line (15.8%) is above the national average (14%) and equates to 15,946 people out of 101,206 total residents.
Unfortunately, though, numbers that large are often difficult to comprehend, allowing you to easily lose sight of the human factor.
So let’s look at local poverty from a different perspective.
15.8% means that 1 in 7 people live in poverty within Columbiana County.
15.8% means that in your child’s classroom of 20 kids, at least 3 of those children are part of a family that struggles to put food on the table/pay monthly bills/afford medical care.
15.8% means that the people living six houses down from you struggle to keep the lights on, despite the fact that both of the adults living in the home are employed fulltime.
15.8% means that the person next to you in line at the grocery store has counted their money down to their last dollar, and put food back because they couldn’t afford everything in their cart.
Poverty means that families who can’t afford basic expenses can’t do things like allow their children to take class trips, pay for regular doctor visits or even purchase clothes that fit.
Its impact creates a cycle that is nearly impossible to break free from, which is why The Way Station works every day to be a community resource for families and individuals in need.
For more than 30 years, The Way Station has been a place for the lonely to find friendship, the hungry to find food and the hurting to find healing. We serve thousands of individuals and families every year with food, clothing, diapers, emergency assistance, mentoring and job training.
We work to deliver hope through love, giving people access to programs like Pathways to Independence (which helps to build positive connections and motivation so that people can break free of poverty) and much more.
If you live in Columbiana County and are struggling, or if you know someone fighting through the cycle of poverty, reach out to The Way Station to see how we can help!