Topeka (KSNT) –
You may have noticed celebrities with red noses throughout your social media feeds today. That’s because this is Red Nose Day, an international campaign to raise money for and awareness about poverty.
Poverty is a problem not limited to third world countries. It’s present and prominent in Kansas. While the national average for poverty is around 15 percent, “Roughly like 21 percent of Kansans are living in poverty,” says Gary Brunk, the executive director of Kansas Association of Community Action Programs.
Cheryl is in poverty because, “I made some bad decisions,” she says.
“Just doing the best I can, trying to make it day by day,” says Alan, who also lives in poverty.
Both Cheryl and Alan are receiving help from the Topeka Rescue Mission, but not all poverty stories are like theirs.
“One or more adults working full or part time. So this sort of myth that we have a lot of poor people that don’t have jobs or don’t want to work, so therefore they’re poor, is just not the case,” says Brunk.
Even with more need-based resources, poverty has gone up in recent years
“The underlying cause of poverty in Kansas is the lack of decent paying jobs. Jobs that will support a family. Most non-profit organizations are not capable of doing anything about that,” says Brunk.
Brunk says that while things like food banks do help those in poverty, they don’t solve poverty.
Poverty is a problem with no end in sight. This is a disheartening reality for those in poverty who want to get out.
“I feel worthless because I’m not contributing to the upkeep of myself or society,” says Cheryl.
“You even think that if you did die, life might be better,” says Alan.
Brunk says that until higher paying jobs are available in the state, poverty statistics will remain high.
“Until the job situation turns around, we’ll need more food banks, we’ll need more shelters, but we’re not going to get rid of poverty,” says Brunk.