Couple searches for answers

Staff writer

Richard and Amy McVey of Marion know they are living in poverty. They also want to get out of poverty. That is why they accepted the invitation to join the first leadership class organized by Circles of Marion County.

They attended all 15 weekly sessions in which they shared with others in similar circumstances and learned ways of coping and improving their lives.

The McVeys have a 7-year-old son, Adam, who has autism and suffers from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

He gets more than $700 a month in Social Security Income payments.

Richard McVey does not have a full-time job. He has several part-time jobs and estimates he brings home about $400 a month.

Amy McVey said she is bipolar and is not able to hold a job. She has made payment arrangements with Prairie View to obtain counseling and therapy.

The couple gets SNAP benefits and utilizes the Marion County Food Bank.

Amy said they often are told they have too much income to qualify when they apply for other government benefits.

Every year, their tax refund helps them get caught up with bills and gives them a fresh start.

Richard has been paying child support for a child from a previous marriage, but that will end this month, so they are hoping that will increase their cash flow. They pay $300 in monthly rent.

The McVeys learned about budgeting in their Circles class.

“It’s kind of hard to stick within the guidelines,” Richard said.

“We got to meet a lot of new people from all different walks of life,” Amy said. “I drew strength from a couple of single moms who are trying to survive. They make it look easy, but it’s not.”

Richard continues to look for a full-time job. He is hoping to find one in the area so they won’t have to move away. They moved to Marion from Hutchinson in August.

Both agreed the Circles class was a positive experience. Even though they graduated from the program on May 2, the process is ongoing. They will be assigned several people known as “Allies” this week who will provide companionship and support for 18 months.

The Allies are middle-income volunteers who hope to assist their low-income friends to become a part of the mainstream and get the leg up they need to get out of poverty.

“It’s still in process,” Amy said. “I hope the second group will have as much fun as we did. The next 18 months will be interesting. I hope Richard can find a full-time job, so we can stay here.”

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