By: Kim Sellmeyer, Creative Director – Greater Omaha Chamber
I recently attended the opening for the documentary “Out of Frame, Unseen Poverty in the Heartland”. The film, produced by Together Omaha and filmed by Jason Fischer of Surreal Media Lab faces the issue head-on and seeks to change the perception of those living in poverty. It follows the stories of four families here in Omaha struggling with challenges that have threatened their stability. The stories are heart-rending. But the people in them show their resilience and strength.
I had the opportunity to go through a poverty simulation through Leadership Omaha. I was assigned to be a single teenage mother, living with my father who was on disability. The literal cards I was dealt kept tripping up my attempts to go to school and care for my family. I started to spiral downward – getting shortchanged from a financial transaction leaving me without enough left to buy food. I made judgment calls to briefly leave my child home alone to run and pay the gas bill so we wouldn’t be cold. This led to law enforcement issues and child neglect charges. It was a scary spiral downward. But for me, it was just pretend.
Candy Hicks, one of the women in the film, referred to her spiral as quick sand, and her struggle is very real.
With all of the conversation about the haves and have nots, I am grateful for those organizations that are working to solve the problems. When the divide is so wide, it becomes hard to relate and be compassionate. Together Omaha could have shown us numbers and asked us to understand. They instead chose to show us faces, and the stories with those faces, and asked us to “love other human beings,” as Vernon Mohamed so passionately says in the film.
It all starts with caring about one another. It moves to helping one another. Jason Fischer lived in poverty most of his childhood. Now a successful business owner, he used that compassion and understanding to help create an impactful story to help solve a problem in our community.
The business community has the opportunity to step up in several ways. We can be advocates, volunteers, or give financially. We can make sure we are doing the right things to help employees be successful.
The families living in poverty here are a part of our community; they are right in front of us.
Look again, do you see them?
To find where you can see the film check the Facebook page.