With one out of every two families in Washington County living in poverty, local nonprofit leaders are preparing to lay out a case for change and they need the community’s help.
One of the ways they will be doing that is to invite the public to see what these families are really facing by taking part in a Poverty Simulation event set for Dec. 12.
“We have to have an intentional plan to be able to strategize to get our community healthy and whole,” said Gina Elias, CEO of Building Bridges of Oklahoma
As poverty is on the rise so is inflation and crime. Elias said is it time to think smarter, to partner with legal, educational, health and corporate leaders to develop a more qualified workforce.
“If we don’t expand bridges and have an intentional plan for the entire community, we’re heading in the wrong direction and it’s going to be hard to keep our corporations here,” Elias said.
Elias said that the Community Service Council has excellent data to help drive their solutions. The poverty guidelines for assistance is less than $21,000 for one adult and two children. Elias said the living wage needs to be $72,000 for a family this size which leaves a $51,000 discrepancy.
There are many stumbling blocks that have a direct impact on a family’s well-being. In addition to drug and alcohol addiction, Elias said gambling addition is a huge problem in Washington County as are a proliferation of predatory lenders that charge anywhere from 52 to 780 percent interest. The simplest of things, car repairs for example, can create desperation for people who have no other alternatives to pay their bills.
“Once you’re in it, you can hardly get out of it,” Elias said.
The event takes from from 3 to 6 p.m. on Dec. 12 at Adam’s Boulevard Church of Christ, 3700 SE Adams Blvd.
To register for the Poverty Simulation event, complete the online registration form at buildingbridgesok.org. Registration is $50 per person and includes dinner.
All proceeds go towards Building Bridges of Oklahoma and to supporting families breaking the cycle of generational poverty. For scholarship information, call 918-338-0800 or submit an online application.