Chasing the Dream: Poverty and Opportunity in America is a multi-platform public media Initiative that aims to provide a deeper understanding of the impact of poverty on American society: what life is like below the poverty line, its impact on our economic security and on our children, and what has happened to our age-old dream of striving for a better life. We’ll also highlight solutions: what has worked – and what is working to bring people out of poverty – and what lessons we can and must learn for the future.
Jacquie, a Grill Cook, on the potential impact of the minimum wage increase.
Tomeico talks about the challenges of affording child care.
YouthBuild Schenectady helps young adults transform their lives and communities.
College Hometown Pharmacy is helping to remove barriers to healthcare.
Child Care Costs
Jacquie Jordan, McDonalds Grill Cook in Colonie. She’s frustrated that the minimum wage is only set to reach $12.50 upstate and feels like workers like herself are being unfairly segregated from their fellow fast food employees in New York City. Jordan, who is 50, works as a Grill Cook at McDonalds making $9.75 an hour. She says it’s unfair that a grill cook in New York City will get $15 in 2018 and she will only get $12.50 in 2021. Jacquie’s worked the grill for 7-years and makes $9.75 an hour, taking home about $189 a week. She shares her motel room with her husband and two cats in suburban Albany. The rent is $250 a week and often has to borrow money to make ends meet. They make the motel room work with different corners serving as different rooms. She says even though there are cheaper rents in the area, she cannot afford a security deposit. She says she’s going to continue to push until all workers in New York State make at least $15. “We’re gonna make a difference, we’re not gonna stop. The more they say no, the more they’re gonna see us on their door step." #ChasingTheDream @chasingthedream_wnet
Small business owner Patrick Pipino says increasing the minimum wage beyond $12 an hour will put his business in jeopardy. He says running an ice cream shop in the north east means making a lot of money in the summer and hoping it holds you over through the winter. He says in addition to wage increases can come operating increases like utilities and suppliers didn’t seem to be considered in the bill and if all 3 go up at the same time… he goes under. He also worries if wages increase then so will inflation and a scoop of Ben & Jerry’s in Saratoga may become unreasonably unaffordable. #ChasingTheDream @chasingthedream_wnet
‘It’s been such a wonderful part of my recovery to know I can help people again, when I needed so much help to get to this point,’ says Bob Wishart, the facility supervisor for Paul Mitchell The School in Schenectady. Bob was married for 17 years but then things started to ‘break down.’ ‘I became drug-addicted and we got divorced,’ said the father of one. ‘After the divorce, I was a bachelor again. I started hanging out, having a good time, and that lasted for a few years. I lost everything.’ On Dec. 9, 2009, Bob woke up and he saw drugs laying all over the floor of where he was. He picked up his things and left. ‘I knew the Schenectady Mission existed and I walked down that driveway to the city mission and checked in.’ He went through two separate year-long rehab programs, finishing in 2012. Bob was given the opportunity to work as a Schenectady Ambassador which, he said, gave him some of his self-respect back since he could give back to the community. Now, he’s at @pmtsschenectady, where he was promoted from a part-time janitor to a supervisor. ‘I’m called the ‘dad’ of Paul Mitchell now,’ Bob says, smiling. #ChasingTheDream @chasingthedream_wnet
Charles Fludd’s life was devastated when Superstorm Sandy destroyed his home. He lost everything. He moved Upstate and lives in Rotterdam. ‘After the storm, my life took a bad turn. I didn’t have a secure residence, I wasn’t making ends meet. I went back to selling drugs. I wanted fast cash.’ Fludd first started selling drugs when he was 16. ‘I was not in a broken home. Starting at 16, I had no parental supervision so we did whatever we wanted.’ Over the years, that included doing coke, crack and pot. He used guns in robberies and went to prison in Jamaica for one year for smoking weed. ‘I had no future, no retirement, no steady foundation. Even if you have all the money in the world, what use is it if you’re in jail. My kids had no decent role model and I decided I wanted to be someone they could look up to.’ He has six children. ‘I haven’t been the greatest parent,’ he admitted. ‘I wasted so much time in the street. It’s time to do something different.’ He is taking classes in computer science at Schenectady County Community College. He’s not sure just yet what he wants to do with the degree. ‘I want to be an asset. I want to buy a house and be a productive individual in my community.' #ChasingtheDream @chasingthedream_wnet
Kevin Brown is in the process of getting his driver’s license. The 55-year-old father of three has never had one before. Originally from Brooklyn, Brown had been getting high for 45 years. He has been sober the past two. ‘Every day is a struggle with sobriety,’ he said. His children have been one of the reasons he has wanted to be sober but, in the end, he said, he knows he has to do it for himself. ‘Everyone is an addict in one way or another,’ he reflected. ‘I wish my mom was alive to see me sober. She’d be proud.' #ChasingtheDream @chasingthedream_wnet
‘It’s about being grateful for what you have – food, a shower, clothes, people to talk with who have had a similar life.’ ~ Julie Rooney of Niskayuna. The 53-year-old is a recent graduate of the City Mission of Schenectady’s 12 to 16 week Getting Ahead program. #ChasingTheDream @chasingthedream_wnet