Where you start not as important as where you wind up
MVCAA will mark its 50 years of fighting poverty with community-awareness events in each of its seven counties, including a “Poverty Awareness Rally and Walk” April 10 on the courthouse square in Richmond.
“I am asking community members to start walking around 4:30 p.m. to be at the courthouse at 5, they can join us we will be starting from Maurice Roberts Park,” said Michelle Zwiers, MVCAA’s Head Start Director in Richmond.
Other groups symbolizing MVCAA’s role in the “War on Povery” will converge on the square from differnt directions. Representatives from the senior center are likely to begin their walk from Richmond City Hall parking lot, those associated with HUD (Department of Housing and Urban Affairs) from the area of Richmond’s public housing and a health department contingent marching down Lexington toward the square.
However, Zwiers said those in the community who wish to join in the march can start from any point.
“Anywhere they want to start from is OK, just time it to be at the courthouse at 5,” she said. “We want people coming from each direction because we’re not just Richmond.”
Walkers from each of the directions are expected to carry pieces of a puzzle that, when completed, defines MVCAA’s role in alleviating poverty in Ray County.
The walkers will speak briefly during a rally and celebration at the courthouse, Zwiers said.
According to figures compiled by MVCAA, 10.5 percent of Ray County residents were at the poverty level in 2012 and around 3,000 people a month (out of a county-wide population of 23,000) received food stamps. Thirty-one percent of the county’s children were among food-stamp recipients (in 2011) and 36.2 percent received free or reduced-price school lunches (a 2010 statistic).
“Our mission is to end poverty,” said MVCAA Director Pam LaFrenz said. “A lot of people poo-poo that and say, ‘Oh, you’ll never do that,’ but our goal is to marshal resources to do that. It’s not a one-organization solution. It takes many hearts and minds to do that.”
A little bit about MVCAA’s background:
Missouri Valley Community Action Agency is a private non-profit organization incorporated in 1965. Its purpose is to provide opportunities to the low-income population in Carroll, Chariton, Johnson, Lafayette, Pettis, Ray, and Saline counties. A grant award of $50,000 from the Department of Health, Education and Welfare funded the agency’s first program, head Start, in 1966. Since its inception, MVHR has shown steady growth and now administers more than 40 different grant awards with an annual budget of several million dollars.