Gateways Out of Poverty

July 17 – Lutheran Advocacy Ministry in Pennsylvania, as part of the Pennsylvania Interfaith Justice Coalition, has joined with Rep. Dave Reed (R – Indiana) and the House Majority Policy Committee this week at the start of a statewide initiative exploring ways to combat poverty.

Approximately 1.5 million Pennsylvanians – more than 12 percent of our population – live in poverty. The numbers are growing in all areas of the commonwealth – rural, urban and suburban communities alike.

“Persistent poverty in Pennsylvania diminishes all of us and tolerating it is a moral failure,” said the Rev. Amy Reumann, LAMPa director. “The time is here to move beyond misinformation and stereotypes, piecemeal efforts or quick fixes, to summon forth the will and the heart to create a comprehensive plan to address the scandal of poverty,” Reumann said at the launch of “Empowering Opportunities: Gateways Out of Poverty.”

The initiative aims to get a better picture of the many faces of poverty throughout the commonwealth and the challenges associated with each of them.

“Different communities are facing different challenges,” said Reed, R-Indiana, “and it is our job to better understand these differences and support a system that equally combats them.”

The committee kicked off the initiative with a poverty simulation run by the Community Action Association of Pennsylvania, in which lawmakers experienced an average month in the life of struggling families. They were tasked with meeting a variety of daily goals such as timely arrival to work, care for family, transportation and paying bills on a limited cash flow. Members described it as an eye-opening experience.

The initiative moves forward with hearings, roundtable discussions and tours throughout the state, where the committee hopes to engage community groups on the front lines in battling poverty in a four pronged approach: identifying barriers, building partnerships, developing solutions and maintaining the commitment to empowering Pennsylvanians toward lives of economic independence.

Our Lutheran faith communities totaling roughly a half million members in Pennsylvania are already deeply involved in delivering help and hope where and when people need it most – through food pantries, health care clinics, after-school tutoring and senior meal programs, shelters and affordable housing programs. In addition, Lutheran Services in America-PA provides charitable programs from adoption and counseling to senior living services and hospice – touching the lives of one in 50 Pennsylvanians from birth through life’s final moments.

The goal, Reed said, is “not only to help families escape poverty, but to create permanent gateways toward new opportunities.”

LAMPa commends Rep. Reed and his colleagues for leading this initiative on behalf of those who struggle on a daily basis and hopes this leads to a blueprint for a thriving commonwealth.
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