The Poverty Problem

The Poverty Problem

Maureen Fox and Barbara Church, staff members at Community Action Partnership (CAP), a private non-profit agency offering help to residents or employees of Madison County in need of economic and family support, sat down on Tuesday with Colgate students to discuss poverty and its affects on women.

Fox and Church gave personal insights about their daily work while highlighting the cost and struggle women deal with in childbearing and maintaining a healthy family. Women additionally shoulder a burden of tasks, such as doing laundry and providing meals for the family, that often go unnoticed.

Additionally, Fox and Church made note of the book Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich.

“I think that Maureen and Barb’s presentation brought the issues explored in that book home to those living here in Madison County,” Women’s Studies Program Assistant Heather Angstrom ’05 said.

CAP advises people on money, operates an emergency food cupboard network and offers guidance on housing ownership.

“CAP’s mission is to promote empowerment, foster economic independence and develop opportunities to create a stronger, healthier community for Madison County’s citizens,” Angstrom said.

According to CAP, 110 million Americans live at or below the poverty line. Fox stressed that before working for CAP she had no concept of the extent to which the poor suffered on a daily basis and encouraged Colgate students to get involved.

“Poverty is no one’s fault, but everyone’s fight,” Fox said.

Church added that a common misconception is that the poor are lazy or untrained.

“There is no such thing as an unskilled job,” Church said. She claimed that whether one works at Wal-Mart or in a factory, each job requires skills to complete. Instead of avoiding work, she said, low-income people bump into bad situations that they cannot get out of alone.

Fox and Church were impressed by the volunteer efforts of Colgate students through the Center for Outreach, Volunteerism, and Education (COVE) each year, but they believe that students can do more. Both women advised the audience and student body to educate themselves on poverty – globally, nationally and locally. One of the problems they see in America is a lack of education on the subject.

“I think Maureen and Barb were quite right when they said that we need to work toward systemic, long-term change rather than focusing solely on short-term solutions,” Angstrom said.