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.
What role can churches play in fighting Springfield’s poverty and childhood hunger?
Springfield has developed a talent for pinpointing — in citizen committees, strategic plans and community reports — the most critical challenges facing its children.
Springfield community leaders weigh in on what it would take to usher in significant changes to improve the lives of children and then sustain those changes:
‘I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.’ (Genesis 12:2 ESV) These words to Abraham serve as a reminder that those who are blessed by God are blessed to be a blessing.
Many thanks for the Every Child series of reports in the News-Leader. They certainly give us cause to wonder why a mid-size, Midwest city in the Bible Belt of the country seems to be so bipolar.
The News-Leader has been working on the Every Child project for the past year, focusing on critical issues that impact the lives of children in our community.
When it comes to addressing difficult challenges that face our community, the primary obstacle we face is not related to a lack of goodwill, but rather to the fundamental way we understand the nature of the problems we face.
In his 1960s comic strip, ‘Pogo,’ Walt Kelly penned, ‘We have met the enemy, and they are us.’ This Pogo-ism comes to mind when I think about the real and potential roadblocks we may encounter in our local efforts to overcome poverty.
The year was 1969. A 13-year-old girl and her two youngest siblings came home to an empty house. This young girl was suddenly without her parents. Her mother and stepfather had run away … run away from home.
The story of Jacob’s House revolves around another story, said Rich Watson, assistant director for the nonprofit. It’s a story of people trying to protect a child’s innocence.
By 2 a.m., well past the 11 p.m. public park curfew, 17-year-old Jessica Fink just wanted a place to hang out.
Mary Morris dreams of some day operating on patients as a neurologist.
Many people could live their entire lives in the Springfield area and never see the stifling poverty engulfing children, said Morey Mechlin, executive director of Care to Learn.
For children such as 15-year-old Crystal of Marshfield and others in north Springfield neighborhoods where Bridges for Youth Centers welcome them every day after school, “not enough” is in long supply.
Lara Webb Fors is struggling to keep up with 2,300 child support cases while losing more than 16 percent of the financial support for the Springfield Regional Prosecutors’ Child Support Office.
As a high school junior, Garrett Roney could barely think beyond his weekend party plans when circumstances demanded he make a decision about the rest of his life — he and his then-girlfriend Ahna thought she may be pregnant.
Keli Lunn is supposed to receive $500 a month in child support for her two young daughters. There are months when just $50 or $100 shows up. Others, nothing comes.
Raising children alone was never part of the plan. Heather Tucker married a man and thought she’d spend the rest of her life with him. The union didn’t make it to a second anniversary.
In the past decade, the composition of families with children has been changing in Springfield and the entire country. Data from the U.S.
If poverty in the Ozarks is a ‘social time bomb,’ then the unencumbered growth in single-parent households is the match that lit the fuse. Parenting is difficult enough for married couples.
Trevor Reynolds has been in the ground for four months. His stepfather, charged with first-degree murder, is locked in the Greene County Jail. His mother, filled with grief and second-guesses, remains alone in the little blue house the three shared on East Livingston Street.
On July 9, a van leaves Springfield, headed southeast along the same route Trevor Reynolds’ mom took when she moved him to Springfield three years earlier. The van is carrying his body home to Alabama.
A little after midnight on July 5, Trevor Reynolds dials the phone. He’s in Room 231 at the Americas Best Value Inn, at the corner of Glenstone Avenue and Kearney Street. The 14-year-old is alone and bored. Devon Earnhardt agrees to come over. Trevor catches Devon up on what happened after he left.
Trevor Reynolds makes a few close friends at Pleasant View Middle School, but doesn’t feel like he fits in. He mouths off at a bus stop. He gets into a fight. A school official thinks Trevor might respond well to an alternative program, where he will receive more attention.
In southeast Springfield, Trevor Reynolds moves into the apartment his mother shares with Kevin Salerno, just off Sunshine Street. Falecha Reynolds takes her 11-year-old son shopping for all new clothes and shoes. He needs school supplies. She buys him the newest video games.
In Springfield, Falecha Reynolds works as a cashier at Kmart and settles into a routine. She and new boyfriend Kevin Salerno are happy. She inks his name on her right shoulder. She goes shopping with his young daughter. But she misses her son. Falecha sends a pre-paid cell phone to her 9-year-old.
Trevor Reynolds’ mama is the first to hold him. On the first morning of Trevor’s life, she is taken by his brown eyes, soft skin and curly patch of hair. His long body reminds her of a cat. But Falecha Reynolds recognizes something in the sweetness of his face, in the shape of his head.
For the first nine months of the Every Child project, the News-Leader and an advisory board of community members have shined a light on issues affecting children in the community.
It’s easy to see bruises on a kid. It’s easy to see dirty faces, no socks, no shoes. But some things hurting kids are not so visible. Low expectations. Generations of hopelessness. Prejudice. Attitudes so ingrained they are rarely even acknowledged.
With the elections (almost) behind us, the News-Leader today opens a complex new chapter in our Every Child series.
When Robberson Elementary Principal Kevin Huffman arrived at work after a night in the emergency room with a relative, he was distracted and grumpy.
Maribeth Primm has been known to wash cockroaches out of her hair because of her job. She’s pulled up carpet that’s been matted to the ground with dog urine. Her work? Helping families keep their children from being removed by the state.
Most of us have a hard enough time making a plan for the next year — so it’s difficult to imagine making a plan that might need to span two or three generations.
If you meet Victoria Stokes, she’ll probably strike you as one of the most responsible 19-year-olds around.
Rylee Knox is 13, three years younger than her mother was when she had her first child.
Just a few years ago, Anthony Rios had failed seventh grade twice and had no ambitions for college.