Poverty: The Faces behind the Numbers

(CBS)
Today's census report is awash with new statistics on poverty in America.

But behind the numbers are the faces of real Americans doing their best to get by.

Case in point is Denise Guidry's family. Randall Pinkston and I met them this week in the small town of Wesson, Mississippi.

I didn't meet Denise right away -- I learned her house was up for sale, so I headed there instead. There we found a "For Sale" sign, a large oak tree, and a swing set sitting idle.

I found everything that parents in this country try to provide for their families: a place to grow up, a place to call home. I was stunned to see where Denise and her family ended up.

Randall Pinkston's piece
Read the census report

First I overheard it was a trailer, but after driving up and down the street it became pretty clear that a trailer would have been a nice alternative.

Instead I found Denise and her five children living in small camper, parked in a clear corner lot next to railroad tracks. A generator provides electricity to cook, and an air conditioner to keep comfortable. Just weeks ago, this family lived in a 2,500 square foot home. I met them when after they were trying to find a way to make room for everybody in their new home, the 27 square foot camper.

Regardless their hopes are up. This family is happy to live in Wesson because it is the small community they had been looking for when they left Louisiana for Mississippi.

"This is where I want my children to grow up", Denise told me.

What hurts this mother of five the most is not the material losses she's endured. Yes they are tough for her, but her biggest regret is not being able to be home for them. She's gone from being a full time mom to working 75 hours at three part time jobs to provide for her family, while her husband travels frequently looking for work in oil fields that need pipelines.

"We'll get through this," she said. "We're going through a rough patch right now, but we'll get through it."

They are one family in Mississippi of out millions who have joined the ranks of the poor in this country -- and seeing them as just a number in a report filled with statistics doesn't do them justice.





  • Alberto Moya

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