Ending Poverty, is it just about money? There is a great political debate occurring in our nation that wants huge amounts of your tax money to be invested in poverty reduction without first answering the question. After attending a national conference in Edmonton, 'Poverty Reduction When Mayors Lead', I can assure you that poverty reduction is much more complicated than just a money solution. I was attracted to this conference to support the idea of local solutions rather than simply administer Federal and Provincial mandated programs. I was also intrigued to attend a conference welcoming and featuring many participants with "lived" experience. I was born in the late 50's and sometimes I am tempted to claim "lived" experience when recalling my early education in the two room Hickson school. Wearing the same clothes to school every day and eating a baloney sandwich for lunch surely qualifies. However a short conversation with my older siblings born in the early 50's assures me that my experience was heaven on earth compared to their early education experience. The reality was we all had a home, food to eat and the great hope that the hard work on the farm would lead to a better tomorrow.
Lesson #1. Poverty Reduction is more about hope and opportunity than money! There were several great speakers with authentic 'lived' experience that shared their inspirational stories. The common element in all their stories was Poverty Reduction happened to them when someone cared and connected with them. Someone took the time to reach out and connect with them in their world. None of these transformational connections happened in an office through a hole in a glass window between 9 and 4.
Lesson #2. Poverty Reduction, actions speak louder than words and money! Several Mayors spoke about their local initiatives that were addressing their local needs. I wish I could have told the story of Oxford County solutions. I would have told them about TAP, about MCC, about Operation Sharing, about Indwell, and about the Oxford County Housing First Policy and many other initiatives.
Lesson #3. Poverty Reduction, there is no place like home!
While we need national income redistribution programs to support those in poverty the solution is local engagement. Thank you for supporting our local initiatives with your time, money and gifts of food and clothing. Let us continue to meet today's real needs while building a future of hope and opportunity.