By Larry Zehr

By Larry Zehr

Breaking the cycle of poverty often means overcoming a mindset.

Click here to read the entire February 2020 newsletter

Breaking the cycle of poverty often means overcoming a mindset. When someone is chronically living in poverty, their mindset shifts from one of growth and opportunity to one consisting of self-sabotage, often undermining their quest for abundance by adopting negative beliefs about wealth (it’s unattainable, my family has never had money, money is the root of all evil, etc.). These negative beliefs cause patterns of behavior making it nearly impossible to attract the wealth one needs for self-sufficiency.

Moving from a poverty mindset to an “I can do it!” mindset is a personal journey unique to every individual. Each person moves at their own speed, as we are all at a different place when it comes to willingness to learn and the commitment to do.

In the Welcome Center, we meet clients at their commitment level and encourage them to participate in our barrier-reduction services when they are ready. For some of our clients, it takes multiple visits and conversations with our staff before they decide they are ready to take the steps toward self-sufficiency.

Some of the most common reasons clients stay in the poverty mindset are:

  • It’s been passed down generationally and they’re accustomed to meeting their own needs in other ways.
  • Clients often lack planning. There is little to no sense of direction or plan of action, and without a plan, other people and circumstances dictate the direction of their lives.
  • Clients often seek instant gratification and become discouraged quickly when they don’t get it.

  At Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph, we’re working to change this mentality. We know the poverty mindset is something learned, and our brains are adaptable enough to learn better, healthier patterns and behaviors.

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As we work with clients, we see them grow in their capacity to not only focus on the present, but the reality of a more positive future. A huge part of this work consists of helping clients attain steady employment, since 73% of people visiting our Welcome Center are unemployed. While the Welcome Center can help meet immediate needs, our Employment Services team stands ready to provide job skills training, resume development, and interview preparation. Therefore, our Welcome Center and Employment Services have teamed up to pilot a new program called “Radical Uplifting.” This program is designed to identify those deepest in ‘the poverty mindset’, and to offer Employment Services to those who would not otherwise seek it on their own.

In this month’s edition of the e-newsletter, Kathy Ficcadenti, our Director of Employment Services, goes further in-depth about the Radical Uplifting program. This is just another way Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph shows how we surround clients with services enabling them to overcome the poverty mindset.

To learn more about Radical Uplifting, contact Larry Zehr at or (816) 659-8271.


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