The New Face of American Poverty –The Other 47 percent?
“A new documentary to be released next month highlights our nation’s poverty. Hear from a Chicago woman about how World Vision helped her family overcome a culture of violence and hopelessness.”
Targeting: Chicago and Washington, D.C. media
When Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney portrayed Democratic President Barack Obama’s supporters – as 47 percent of the electorate – who live off government handouts and do not “care for their lives,” Chicago’s Sheila Howard took it personally. “Poor people I know don’t feel entitled”, says 54-year old Sheila Howard from Chicago’s West Side. Howard says, “When poverty hits, you just find yourself in those circumstances. People forget that there but for the grace of God go I.”
Howard is one of those featured in the new Linda Midgett documentary, “The Line” about the “new face” of American poverty. http://thelinemovie.com/ The film premiers in Washington, D.C. October 2nd.
Sojourners CEO Jim Wallis says, “More and more of our friends are in poverty — in the pews, in our workplaces — through no fault of their own, and they are slipping below the poverty level.”
The film features a single dad from the Chicago suburbs laid off from his bank and now a regular at the local food pantry, trying to make it by with three kids. Howard’s in the doc because she lives on Chicago’s tough West Side where deep poverty creates a culture of violence and hopelessness. Howard works with World Vision as a community Development Specialist.
Howard ‘s son, JaVee was also in the documentary because of his involvement as a delegate in World Vision’s Youth Empowerment Program (YEP). In 2011, JaVee, his sister, Veesha and Sheila joined more than 130 others across the nation as they traveled to Washington, D.C. , advocating for federal youth violence prevention funding.
Sheila talked about her experience with Linda Midgett and the documentary filming. “It was my journey living below the poverty line. I took them back to my old neighborhood to the house I grew up, and showed them where my sister was killed in 1974.” Howard believes it was a robbery attempt though she says police never confirmed that.
“The point of the movie is that many people are living below the poverty line through no fault of their own. We are not all lazy, feeling entitled … wanting to live off the government, Things just happened beyond our control that caused us to fall below the line,” says Howard.
Howard says the film gave her an opportunity to talk about her nonprofit, “Born To Be Light” www.born2blight.com. and how she was inspired by (YEP). Howard says, “It’s working. People are understanding the significance of being a light in their home and community. Words not only carry empowering energy, they carry hope for a better tomorrow.”
Howard is going back to school to get her undergraduate degree in communications from Chicago State University.
- A 2011 YouTube video features Howard and JaVee, discuss how YEP changed their lives.
- Linda Midgett (2005 Daytime Emmy Award winner, 2006, 2007 Daytime Emmy Award nominated)
Available for interview:
Sheila Howard – Community Development Specialist – World Vision
Corryne DeLiberto – Domestic Policy Advisor – World Vision
Media Contact: John Yeager Special Projects Director – Media Relations World Vision 425-765-9845 firstname.lastname@example.org