It affects one in three children in West Virginia.
It costs the state $3.9 billion.
It’s an issue that continues to grow.
As Stephen Smith, director of West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition, said, “It’s affecting all of us in one way or another.”
The “it” is poverty.
And a group of social agencies and concerned citizens is doing something about it.
But it won’t be a simple task. As Smith pointed out, 48 percent of West Virginians live below self-sustainability. That means they don’t make enough money to get by without government help. And it means nearly half the state is working or is in and out of jobs, yet still doesn’t make enough to get by.
Smith called the figure “shocking.” As director of West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition, a statewide child health and child poverty advocacy group, he sees the issue firsthand.
“There is a very powerful myth that poverty is something that afflicts only a minority of us, and that those people deserve it,” Smith said. “What we’ve learned over and over from community meetings and statistics is that frighteningly living at or near the poverty line is becoming the norm for West Virginians.”
That’s where “Our Children, Our Future: The Campaign to End Child Poverty” comes in. The coalition is planning its strategies for next year, all with the goal of improving the health of children and families in West Virginia.
Again, the issue is one that affects each of us.
As Smith pointed out, the cycle of poverty creates a ripple effect in the state’s economy. When good-paying jobs are plentiful, people spend their money and the economy benefits. But when times get tight, people give up what they think are nonessentials — things like eating out or going on shopping sprees — and the whole economy suffers.
And sadly, the issue is not one that’s new in the Mountain State.
“About 40 years ago, there was an onslaught on families in West Virginia,” Smith said. “Compared to then, now there are fewer jobs per capita. They pay less, are harder to get and much, much harder to keep. It’s become insanely harder to find and keep a job. Meanwhile, the cost of things has gone up and support systems (family, church, unions) have spread out and become dispersed.”
As groups like the West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition work to bring children and families out of poverty, we are encouraged by Smith’s simple but heartfelt promise: “We’re trying to figure out in small ways and big ways how to address this problem. We are 100 percent serious and unrelenting when it comes to working on things where we can actually make a difference.”
Poverty is clearly a big issue in West Virginia, and it’s one that is unlikely to disappear without a fight.
But having people who are committed to making a difference goes a long way toward winning the battle.
It affects one in three children in West Virginia.
Roll up your sleeves, give blood and you can save lives
It takes up to 100 units of blood to save the life of someone who sustains life-threatening injuries in a vehicle accident.
We’re hoping that the number of people who come to Fairmont Senior High School on Friday for and American Red Cross blood drive will exceed that amount.
Vehicles and motorcycles must share the road safely
The days are long. The weather is superb. There’s plenty of leisure time in these lazy days of summer.
It’s the perfect time to take a long motorcycle ride.
It’s also the perfect opportunity for us to take the time to remind not only riders but drivers of the need to share the road. And we feel compelled to mention it because just within the month of July, there have been two motorcycle-versus-car accidents within the City of Fairmont alone — one with severe injuries sustained by the motorcyclist and the other with less serious injury.
- Too many taking too few steps to protect selves from skin cancer
Distracted driving: It isn’t worth fine or a life
Today marks the day that police agencies from six states are joining forces to crack down on one thing — distracted driving.
And they will focus on that traffic violation for a solid week, with the stepped-up effort to curb distracted driving wrapping up on Saturday, July 26.
COLUMN: Are we people watchers or people judgers?
Let me tell you about my little friend Robby. Well, actually, it’s more about his family and especially his mom. I didn’t get her name. I heard Robby’s name quite a bit, though, during a trip home from Birmingham, Alabama.
I noticed the family in the Birmingham airport immediately. They were just the kind of family you’d notice.
Relish the rich bounty of state’s diverse, unique food traditions
This week, a group of federal officials on a three-day culinary tour of the state visited the Greenbrier Valley to find out what most of us here already know — we have a rich food tradition in West Virginia.
The group was made up of officials from the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Soup Opera in need of your support again this time of year
It’s happening again.
It usually always happens about this time each year. Sometimes it’s a little earlier and sometimes a little later.
But Soup Opera executive director Shelia Tennant knows it will come — usually in July. And she’s never that surprised about it.
County honors men who gave all in helping their community
The next time you’re driving in the Rivesville area, you might notice new signs on two of the area’s bridges.
Those signs, which bear the names of Alex Angelino and Denzil O. Lockard, were unveiled Saturday in honor of the men whose names they display, two men who died while serving their communities.
The bridge on U.S. 19 over Paw Paw Creek was named to honor Lockard, while the bridge on U.S. 19 over Pharaoh Run Creek was named to honor Angelino. Lockard, a former Rivesville police chief, died in 1958 at the age of 48 while directing traffic. Angelino, a Rivesville firefighter, died at the age of 43 of a heart attack while fighting a fire in 1966.
State must learn to keep costs down and perform more efficiently on less
The West Virginia state government began its budget year last Tuesday with a small surplus of $40 million — less than 1 percent of its annual tax revenues — thanks only to dipping into its savings.
Let’s not do that again.
Long-range vision with transportation has been made to be thing of proud past
Last week’s closure of Fairmont’s Fourth Street Bridge is a symbol of a problem that must be fixed.
The United States should be proud of the vision its leaders once displayed to address the country’s transportation needs.
Back in 1954, for example, President Dwight D. Eisenhower announced his goal of an interstate highway system — something that transformed the country.
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- Roll up your sleeves, give blood and you can save lives