WICHITA FALLS, TX (KAUZ) - Poverty is an issue that impacts many families across Texoma, but it is also one the Catholic Charities feels often goes unnoticed.
At a Poverty Summit held Tuesday night at the Forum in Wichita Falls, the organization shed some light on the issue by putting a face to some eye-opening numbers.
"I could never imagine the effect and how much Catholic Charities has done for me today," said Kristin Brumbelow a Catholic Charities client. "I wouldn't be able to actively chase my dream."
Brumbelow said she is now able to provide for her son without assistance and able to apply to college. She opened up to a room full of people looking to join the fight against poverty.
Heather Reynolds, CEO, and President of Catholic Charities Fort Worth said it is important to learn more about the issue.
"To understand more about who the poor are, to understand what's messed up about the system, and then ultimately to talk about what we as people of good will can do to really combat it and make a difference," said Reynolds.
Reynold said the federal poverty guidelines show close to 19-percent of Wichita County residents live in poverty, but the Catholic Charities feel that number is closer to 34-percent. Calling those federal reports outdated and from the 1960's.
"So there's a huge disconnect in what we call how the government defines poverty and how we define out of poverty, which is really about having a sustainable living wage," said Reynolds.
Reynolds said a family in Wichita County is not considered poor if they make below $24,000 a year but adds realistically to survive it takes closer to $50,000 a year.
That is why she believes open discussions like the Poverty Summit are necessary.
"It is not the social service industries job alone to end poverty, it's all of our jobs to end poverty," said Reynolds. Adding community collaboration is important.
"We are all responsible morally, ethically, socially to be in this battle to combat poverty," said Reynolds.
The Wichita Falls Independent School District's superintendent and the Wichita Falls Police Chief spoke at the summit, answering questions and raising awareness to the problems associated with poverty.
Chief Manuel Borrego said as a police officer he thinks substance abuse plays a major role in poverty. While Superintendent Kuhrt touched on job options for students exiting high school.
"The opportunities that either we need to provide them in high school or the opportunities our community can provide individuals to get those skills they need to get a job that allows them to support themselves, support their family," said Superintendent Kuhrt.
Dr. David Hartman Jr., the Senior Minister of First Christian Church, was also on the panel. He said it is important for resources offered to those in need help on a spiritual level too and said a lot of those in Wichita Falls do just that.
"They not only aspire to meet basic human needs but also to instill those divine and inspired qualities of character that can help people learn to live outside of poverty," said Doctor Hartman.
If you are looking to help fight poverty, there are a lot of ways to make a difference, but Reynolds recommends whatever your gift is, rather it is teaching or charity work, just get engaged.