STATE OF OPPORTUNITY. Can Kids in Michigan Get Ahead?
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This special reporting project wrapped up in May 2017. Read more.

"It should not have to hurt to be poor."

Jeff Kubina

For the next few days we're featuring stories of ordinary listeners who read or heard a story on State of Opportunity and decided to give some of their resources or time as a result. We know many of you have done the same. If you've got a story to share or an idea of how people could help let us know here. If you need ideas of what you could do, check out the resources page. We'll update it with  listener suggestions as they come in.

Listeners who contact us to follow up on stories come from different experiences with volunteering. Sure, everyone helps out friends and family in one way or another, but to reach out and help a complete stranger---for some it's not something they'd ordinarily do, but they take the leap and do it anyway. But for others, service is a way of life.

One listener's family---they didn't want to be named, so we'll call them the Alexanders---have been active, collectively, for 30 years. Working with veterans who are homeless, planning activities for senior citizens, sponsoring holiday meal programs, and outreach through church activities are just some ways that this family gives back to their community.

The Alexanders heard Jennifer Guerra's stories about families making the effort to break the cycle of poverty. The stories served as a catalyst for them to help because, as Mr. Alexander explained, "It should not have to hurt to be poor."

A major thing that does hurt people living in poverty is a lack of transportation. Support for public transportation in major metropolitan is on the decline. In some smaller towns, there's virtually no public transportation at all. Getting the kid to school or doing the grocery shopping can take Herculean effort. With the Alexander's help, one family found a solution to their transportation problems. The two families met to figure out if they could fix a car that, it turned out, was too far gone to fix.

In the end, the Alexanders went out and found a "really nice, used car" to help another family get to their daily commitments. They see their volunteer work as paying it forward because, as Mr. Alexander notes, "from those who receive much, much is expected."