The Times West Virginian


July 31, 2013

Ending cycle of poverty in W.Va. remains critical fight

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.

Text Only
  • Marion scores well in recent health report but could do better

    When it comes to area-wide studies, especially on health, there’s usually good news and bad news.
    So was the recent report on the health of America’s counties released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently. The nationwide county study evaluated health outcomes and health factors, and ranked counties accordingly.

    April 13, 2014

  • COLUMN: ‘Instant’ news not always reliable

    That little word has a pretty big meaning. With origins that date back to the 15th century, it means urgent, current, immediate.
    But think about how that word has developed over the past few decades.
    Instant pudding. Instead of slaving over a hot stove for a few minutes, you can now pour cold milk and with a bit of stirring, instant pudding!

    April 13, 2014

  • Decision to be an organ donor can save lives

    Chelsea Clair watched as her father died waiting for a bone marrow transplant.
    So when she met Kyle Froelich at a car show in 2009 and heard about his struggles to find a kidney that would match his unique needs, she never hesitated to offer hers to the man she just met.

    April 11, 2014

  • Volunteers continue to have priceless impact on community

    Chances are, you know someone who volunteers. Perhaps you’re a volunteer yourself.
    Marion County is full of volunteers.
    They read to our youth.
    They assist nonprofit agencies.
    They serve on boards and committees.
    And in 2013, they spent a day picking up nearly 10 tons of garbage that had been tossed out on public property around Marion County.

    April 10, 2014

  • Proposed school calendar lives up to letter and spirit of law

    West Virginia state law requires that students be in a classroom for 180 days.

    April 9, 2014

  • Strong Fairmont General Hospital badly needed to serve our region

    Mere minutes often matter when it comes to emergency health care.
    That’s why we need a strong Fairmont General Hospital.
    When patients need the services of health-care professionals, having family and friends close at hand is often essential, and their presence may even lead to a better outcome.

    April 6, 2014

  • COLUMN: Fairmont General Hospital vital part of community

    There’s nothing better than holding a newborn baby. It gives you a little feeling that not only is everything right in the world, but this perfect little human represents hope of a future where things will be better than they are today.
    I had that blessed opportunity to hold that hopeful future in my arms last week when I visited my dear friend Jen and her newborn son Tristan at Fairmont General Hospital.

    April 6, 2014

  • Putting a cost on safety issue has been culprit in 13 traffic deaths

    Would you believe that an item costing just 57 cents — less than the price of a can of pop — is being cited as the culprit in 13 traffic deaths?
    A simple 57-cent item.
    That’s how much fixing the fatal ignition switches that General Motors installed in new automobiles would have cost, and 13 lives would probably have been saved.

    April 4, 2014

  • TextLimit app one more step in cutting down distracted driving

    Every day in the United States, nine people are killed and more than 1,000 people are injured in vehicle accidents that involve distracted drivers.
    That statistic comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which goes on to say that 69 percent of U.S. drivers between the ages of 18 and 64 reported that they had talked on their cellphone while driving within the 30 days before they were surveyed.

    April 3, 2014

  • Award-winning county teachers represent hard work, sacrifice

    Each year, the Arch Coal Foundation recognizes outstanding West Virginia teachers with its annual Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award.
    And this year, two Marion County teachers were among the 12 recipients.

    April 2, 2014

Featured Ads
NDN Politics
House Ads