DALLAS TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – Some national and state leaders gathered Wednesday in northeastern Pennsylvania to solve a persistent problem in our community and across the country. That problem is poverty and as Eyewitness News Reporter Mark Hiller explains, where they held this one-day conference is considered key to solving the problem.
“And it was pretty much garbage bags of clothes and a mattress topper and a space heater and that’s all I had.” The path of poverty that single mother of two Asia Thompson was on several years ago was bleak. “And me and my two babies slept on a mattress topper in an apartment in the middle of the winter with a heated one room with a space heater.”
But Ms. Thompson would learn about an education program that would change the course of her and her children’s lives. The home of that program, Misericordia University, hosted the conference Pathways out of Poverty and assembled a panel of leaders to promote solutions.
PA Department of Human Services Secretary Teresa Miller said, “Single moms in particular, poverty is just absolutely unbelievable, the impact it has on them and it really keeps them from getting the education they need.” PA Department of Education Secretary Pedro Rivera added, “Education provides a foundation to not only pull ourselves out of poverty but really to break the cycle of generational poverty and situational poverty.”
Secretaries Rivera and Miller participated in the panel discussion urging state government support for a problem with a community ripple effect. One initiative the Wolf administration is pursuing is a program called Parent Pathways but it comes with a price. The governor want $5 million included in the fiscal budget for parents living in or near poverty to get the education and training they need for better jobs.
An inspiration for the initiative is Misericordia University’s Ruth Matthews Bourger Women with Children Program. It helps provide single moms with housing and child care as they pursue a degree in higher learning. Its Director, Katherine Pohlidal said, “The more education a parent can have and accessibility of education is such a priority and it needs to be a priority including in this region.” Building bridges for families to find the pathway out of poverty.
State leaders urged the roughly 100 people in attendance Wednesday to also help create those connections and funding sources within the community. The reason? Government funding might not always be there to help families in poverty who need help the most.