By Sunny Jones

By Sunny Jones

Solving poverty is complex and no two situations are the same. We meet our clients right where they are.

Click here to read the entire February 2020 newsletter

January was Poverty Awareness Month, and although it is only recognized one month out of the year, most of those we serve at Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph experience poverty all year long.


According to the 2018 Missouri Poverty Report, 12.7% of Americans live at or below the poverty rate. In Missouri, however, that number sits at 14% or a total of 826,358 people. Our diocesan service area contains counties where poverty rates soar over 20% and the average gross income for a family of four is $26,200 a year. The need is great!

One thing we know, is poverty comes in many forms and does not discriminate. A lack of education, health care, safe and sanitary housing, and food and nutrition insecurity are all forms of poverty. It includes those who are unemployed, underemployed, or lack engagement in the workforce entirely. Adverse situations such as a natural disaster, divorce, or a personal health crisis can quickly thrust someone into poverty. It can also be long-standing and passed down generationally for decades.

Various studies affirm that poverty impacts almost every facets a person’s life, including safety and security, physical and mental health, learning and development, access to educational opportunities, earning potential, relationships, and behaviors.

Those living in poverty have daily survival decisions to make: to pay for food or medicine, pay rent instead of the light bill, pay for gas in the car to get to and from work instead of paying a child’s field trip fee, or drop out of night school when finances become overwhelming. They may fall victim to predatory lending or may ask family and friends for assistance to get through another day of expenses.

Solving poverty is complex and no two situations are the same. At Catholic Charities, we begin by meeting the client where they are. Services are client-directed, meaning the client chooses the type and timing of service. Services can range from a one-time service such as emergency assistance, to various parenting, financial literacy, or employment classes, to long-term services such as veteran case management, permanent housing, and senior care services.

At a recent seminar in Rome, Pope Francis said,

“Hundreds of millions of people are still mired in extreme poverty and lack food, housing, medical care, schools, electricity, drinking water and adequate and indispensable sanitation services…These realities should not be cause for despair, no, but for action.”

Our work is not motivated by fear or despair, but by a desire to respond to the needs of our community. If you haven’t given to the Catholic Charities Emergency Assistance Fund (CCEAF) yet this year, please consider responding to the Pope’s plea for action here. You’ll help provide emergency food, hygiene, rent, and utility assistance to those most in need within the diocese.


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