Analysis: Local Organizations Work to Combat Poverty


SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Even though April was National Child Abuse Prevention Month, local organizations want to keep the focus on preventing abuse and addressing a related issue: poverty.

Though the bipartisan “cliff effect” bill to help Missouri children in poverty (and sponsored by state rep. Crystal Quaid) will die in its Jefferson City committee this legislative session, the Community Foundation of the Ozarks keeps the focus on kids in its recently released Northwest Project Annual report.

“We have a lot misconceptions about what poverty is and how people get there,” said Christina Ryder of Missouri State University and consultant to the Community Foundation.

Getting there can include a tough childhood.

To combat the effects of a troubled childhood on local residents, the foundation awarded the Drew Lewis Foundation $1.3 million for its five year Northwest Project program.

The report shows some promise with almost 60 community service groups working together, over 200 community volunteers helping their neighbors and weekly neighborhood dinners that bring people of all walks together for community and conversation.

One conversation focus is the effect that childhood abuse has on adults now living in poverty locally.

According to the report, 53 percent of northwest project participants suffered physical abuse as a child, 39 percent lived with a drug user, and 61 percent lived with someone suffering from mental illness.

According to Ryder, “these are all very natural and very obvious consequences of having endured those types of experiences.” Ryder also says there is a heightened concern among many about the lingering impact a troubled childhood can have on adults.

Meanwhile, Representative Quaid says she will introduce her “cliff effect” legislation next legislative session in Jefferson City.

Local efforts on these very important topics will certainly continue.

(Brian Calfano)

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