Poverty Awareness Week kicks off at Open Door - WRBL

Poverty Awareness Week kicks off at Open Door

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COLUMBUS, Ga. -

Some are looking for better work and higher pay as Poverty Awareness Week kicks off in Columbus.

Thursday evening sparked a week-long challenge involving people from around the Columbus community. For the past year, Circles of Columbus at Open Door Community House has been working with 17 low-income families and they are seeing great results.

The families are paired with volunteers called Allies, who meet with the families each week and provide a support system. So far the families that have been in the program a year have had a 22% income increase with a 26% decrease in the amount of public benefits they're receiving. Those that have been in for six months have seen an 85% income increase. Circles coordinator Meg Olive says, "For several of them debt was a big issue, so they've been working hard and in just six months their personal debt has been reduced by 27%."

After working with Circles since July, Tabata Randall says, "I'm in my own place with my children now, which is phenomenal, and it allows us to grow together where we are now. It was a tough transition, I can say, but I thank God for the opportunity to go through it. Just having gone through the hardship really showed me how rich I really was with all the things we sometimes take for granted."

Jeff Hampton has been working with the program since it's inception and says he's learned a lot about poverty. He says, "I drive by everyday and I've now realized there's a lot of real stories that are here, and a lot of valid reasons to why people are facing poverty."

Other events for Poverty Awareness Week include the SNAP challenge. You can join Mayor Teresa Tomlinson and other officials as they live on $4.50 a day, the daily allowance of food stamps.

Circles in Columbus also encourages you to take the bus to experience how challenging it can be to navigate public transportation.

The week concludes with Circles' one-year anniversary celebration at CSU's Elizabeth Bradley Turner Center next Thursday.

Jessi Mitchell

Jessi joined the WRBL news team in October 2012 after working as a freelance production assistant for MTV Networks in Los Angeles.
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