The Springfield News-Leader has launched a public-service journalism project to focus public attention on critical challenges facing children, foster discussion and build on existing initiatives. You can read Executive Editor David Stoeffler's introductory column for more information on the project.
The recently created News-Leader's Every Child community advisory committee -- with representatives from the business, government, education, nonprofit, law enforcement, health and faith sectors -- will play an important role. It will educate and advise journalists and help engage other stakeholders and the general public in a discussion and, ultimately, action.
The News-Leader was honored Wednesday with two prestigious awards from Gannett, the parent company of the News-Leader, USA Today and many other newspapers and media organizations across the country.
In late September, News-Leader readers spent time with five Springfield families struggling to make ends meet. They were profiled in the ‘Children in Poverty’ series. They included a family living in a garage.
The Springfield News-Leader won a special ‘Best in Show’ in the third-quarter Gannett Awards of Excellence contest for its recent series on the effects of poverty on the lives of children in the Ozarks.
Shelby Ammerman learned a big lesson after being featured in a News-Leader series of stories about poverty and its impact on local residents. ‘Family means a lot, especially when you’re struggling,’ said the OTC freshman.
As the News-Leader’s special project on childhood poverty unfolded, the president and CEO of the United Way of the Ozarks developed an “emotional attachment” to the children profiled. Jennifer Kennally carried the newspaper with her to meetings last week and tacked it up.
If the number of additional poor people in Greene County, going back to 2001, were gathered for a symposium on how they might work their way out of poverty, no venue in southwest Missouri could hold them. Not even the Missouri State University football stadium, which seats 16,600.
Hours after Sue Ann Cantwell read about how the children of two families “doubled up” in a center city house were surviving on little food this summer, she loaded up her car with bags of groceries.
The old proverb says it best: Where there’s a will, there’s a way. When it comes to addressing the issues of poverty in our community, my belief is that leaders here generally know the way.
The problems of poverty — nationally and locally — may seem overwhelming. But the solutions start with you. Act now to express your outrage over the conditions being experienced by a growing number of children in the Ozarks.
Loni Brewer remembers what it was like to feel out of place and unsure as a child, to believe everyone around you just knows: That you’re different. That your family isn’t like everyone else’s. That you’re poor.
For the past week, you’ve had a glimpse into the lives of several Springfield families struggling with everyday issues - housing, clothing, food, transportation and the peace of mind that comes with knowing the children are safe and happy.
The cozy blue house with white shutters is so small only a loveseat will fit in the living room. A queen mattress fills most of the floor space in the smaller bedroom. But none of that matters to Loriebell Cork and her three young children.
It’s been hard for Brice Barnett to find peace. The 22-year-old Parkview High graduate was born here, lived all over and then returned four years ago. A childhood of instability — and poverty — left him living on the streets of Springfield.
Shelby and Ellie Ammerman know they’ll be OK as long as they have their mom. They’ve seen one obstacle after another crop up. Each time, their mother finds a way around, over or under. Carmen is proud the girls are resilient and optimistic, even when the outlook is bleak.
When 11-year-old Ellie Ammerman asked to enroll in a center-city middle school because of its rigorous academic program, her mom’s heart sank just a little.
A fourth-grader getting off the noon bus from summer school is handed a bowl of macaroni and cheese, the instant kind out of the blue box. The noodles were boiled, and the powdery cheese mix was added, but without the benefit of milk or butter. Those ran out days earlier.
Ashley Kelly beamed as she talked about how her dad took her to the store, let her pick out seven outfits and told her to take them all to the register. It was his treat. So how much did he spend? “About $30 bucks,” she said.
They take turns sleeping next to their mom on a fold-out couch pushed against the cement block wall and on a covered loveseat nearby. A lamp, plugged into the wall near the makeshift bed, stays on to keep the roaches at bay. The flies are everywhere.
We all can get a bit nostalgic in thinking about our childhood days. Even memories of hardships can fade with time. I am sure that my older siblings could tell you stories about how I was the ‘baby’ of the family, the youngest of seven and probably always
“The vast majority are doing the best they can. They’re trying. There have been a few … that I felt like ‘What are you doing to help yourself? You could be doing so much more,’” said Brooke Ash, social worker with the Community Partnership of the Ozarks.
All over Springfield, families are scraping to get by, and children bear the brunt of the impact. Poverty is a thief, robbing children of what they require to thrive.
In the week ahead, you’ll get to know more about these families and how they struggle every day to give their children what it takes for them to be safe and happy. But first, let’s introduce them to you