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February 13, 2013

ANDERSON: In whose backyard?

Editor’s note: This is the third in a series of guest columns from Barbara Anderson on poverty and homelessness in the area. Read previous columns at newsandtribune.com

 

I remember growing up in Blackiston Mill. Not Blackiston Mill Road, not Parkwood or Blackiston Heights, but right on the banks of Silver Creek, Walnut Grove. 

It wasn’t an easy place to grow up; in school we were the “creek brats.” It didn’t matter that my dad was a minister and a disabled veteran. None of that mattered — I was just a kid from Blackiston Mill and everybody knew about “those kids.”

That’s what growing up poor is like. You feel like you are always on the outside looking in, you try hard and it never seems good enough. I remember a high school counselor telling me that “girls like me don’t go to college.” I watched as my siblings struggled to succeed for who they were in a school system that sometimes wasn’t very friendly to the kids from the Mill. 

McCulloch School was a fairly safe haven, but then came high school. Clarksville for me and Jeffersonville for my siblings (Blackiston Mill was annexed). It was a test daily to go to school and to feel like you fit.

I did graduate from college, but it took some time because I had to work through school. Things were always really close, but not right there. I remember those feelings well. Maybe that is why I feel like I contribute to the people who walk through the doors of the Williams Emergency Shelter. So many people day after day, month after month, and year after year — poverty is never-ending.

The kids at the shelter are wonderfully a part of who we are. The younger they are the better it is; as they age or go higher in school, the poverty they live in and their surroundings become more a source of shame and embarrassment. 

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