The US Partnership on Mobility from Poverty held its first meeting May 12 and 13 in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, New York. While the Partners brought with them many decades of collective experience on a range of issues related to poverty and economic mobility, no voices were more important than those of people with lived experience of economic hardship—and what it takes to overcome it.
Community-based organizations in Washington, DC; Maryland; and Virginia connected us with people who were kind enough to share their stories. The result was this video, which kicked off our discussion at the meeting.
The interviewees are listed in order of appearance.
Amy Judkins is a married mother of two living in Reston, Virginia. She has a bachelor’s degree in early education. After a long period of erratic behavior in school, her son was diagnosed with a mood disorder that eventually required so much care and time that she could not work. The loss of income led to homelessness. It was only when her family had almost literally nothing, Judkins says, that they became eligible for programs that could stabilize them. She credits the non-profit Cornerstones Virginia with providing the housing and supportive services she and her family needed for years.
Bernard Jacobs is a 25-year-old single father of three boys. He lives and grew up in Baltimore, Maryland. Jacobs and his siblings were placed in foster care for a year when he was 11. He says foster care was, essentially, the first of a few prisons and jails he would see over the next decade. At 17, he began a four-year term for gun possession. Jacobs is a graduate of STRIVE, the Center for Urban Families’ pre-employment training program, and lives in Restoration Gardens, an affordable housing development for young adults.
Mayerly Rodriguez is a married mother of two from Colombia. She and her daughter Giselle moved to the United States with her then husband in 2007. When the marriage dissolved, she and Giselle became homeless. According to Rodriguez, the Latino community and strong supportive services in Fairfax County, Virginia helped her find housing and work, and the county’s high-quality schools helped Giselle win a scholarship to Bucknell University, where, during the time this interview was conducted, she was finishing her freshman year.