Breaking Generational PovertyOne by One, This is How You Make an Ocean Rise 

 The image of a drop of water hitting the middle of a pond or a lake, and creating ripples that reach the edge is a visual reminding us that every experience we have, every act of kindness or every threat of harm impacts us. Those effects can be long lasting and even span generations. This is especially true for families who are experiencing poverty. One seemingly small event can spiral into instability that threatens health and safety in ways that may not be immediately apparent. On the other hand, help that arrives at the right time can stabilize and uplift families, breaking the cycle of poverty for generations to come. 

 Beth was overwhelmed and anxious as she opened her mail. One envelope marked with “past due” on the front caught her eye, and she felt her stomach knot up. She had only recently moved to Kansas City for a fresh start, but it seemed as if she couldn’t make any headway. Beth knew that she couldn’t go back to an abusive relationship, as she had two small children to raise. As she stared at the overdue gas bill, she knew she needed help. 

 Unfortunately, Beth’s story is familiar to about 13 percent of the general population of Missouri, with over 17 percent of children living in poverty. From the lasting effects of COVID to current issues with inflation, the reality is that many people live in fear of opening their mail only to discover a large, unpayable bill. 

 With that knot still in her stomach, Beth took that first step by meeting with a social worker from Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph. After listening to her needs, and addressing the immediate crisis of the gas bill, Beth was encouraged to take advantage of a Financial Literacy workshop offered by CCKCSJ. Realizing her needs extended beyond paying a gas bill, she jumped at this chance to learn. While at the course, she calculated how much childcare expenses were impacting her budget. Working in a low-paying contract position meant that her hours were unreliable, requiring her to find childcare almost every day of the week.  

 After the Financial Literacy workshop, Beth met with Kaydee, her Employment Specialist, to discuss her underemployment. Kaydee explored the idea of working at a daycare, as many daycares allow workers to bring their children at a discounted rate. This would address both her underemployment and her childcare situation. Beth was on board! She immediately got to work with Kaydee and started at a local daycare just one week after their meeting. Now, not only does she have sustainable employment, but her children also attend the preschool for free.  

 That first step that Beth took by walking through the doors of Catholic Charities’ Welcome Center created a ripple effect that impacted her life and her children’s lives. Now, Beth no longer lives in fear of opening her mail and encourages others who are struggling: “Take (a chance)! There’s a lot of opportunities out there, sometimes you just have to meet the right people that are willing to help!”  Catholic Charities of Kansas City – St. Joseph serves those in need throughout our 27 counties, striving to lift them to the dignity of self-reliance. Join us in this mission:  create ripples that turn into waves of help for families in need with a financial gift to our year end appeal. 

 Start your ripple today. Donate to our year end appeal and touch the lives of families in our community.

Katie Pike, Annual Appeal Manager


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