Susan Pennock speaks to a group of non-profit leaders and citizens Sunday, Nov. 17 at a seminar discussing how to end poverty. (photo by Kiesa Kay)
Susan Pennock speaks to a group of non-profit leaders and citizens Sunday, Nov. 17 at a seminar discussing how to end poverty. (photo by Kiesa Kay)

Relationships, education can combat poverty

Published 11:03pm Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Poverty affects everything, mind, body and soul, Susan Pennock told a crowd of forty people at Thermal Belt Outreach on Nov. 17.

“Sixteen million of our country’s children live in poverty,” Pennock said. “If this was happening in another country, we’d be flying in choppers to help.”

Somehow, despite the fact that 25 percent of the county’s children live in financial poverty, the schools here have an 89 percent graduation rate.

“Polk County is doing something right,” Pennock said, “but we need to help people begin to talk openly, understand, and really make a difference in the lives of these children.”

Pennock focused on engaging the faith community in helping and in forming healthy mentoring relationships. Robert Parsons, pastor of the Saluda United Methodist Church and the Columbus United Methodist Church, invited Pennock to speak to representatives of schools, business, churches and civic groups.

“Underprivileged children who are hungry don’t need only food,” she said. “They deserve the same things other children get. The way out of poverty is education, not playing the lottery. The way out of poverty is through relationships.”

She differentiated between situational and generational poverty, and addressed the effects that stressors have on people’s abilities to problem-solve. The group decided to continue studying this issue and more ways to help in Polk County.

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