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Community members share stories of poverty

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WHEELING, WV-- A panel was held on Thursday in Wheeling and teachers, social resources, and community members were invited to attend.

"Stop feeling sorry, I don't need anyone's pity," said speaker Claudia Raymer.

As panelists shared painful stories from their past and present, they asked for understanding.

"We also need to find support systems that don't shame us on top of the shame we already hold within," said speaker Jasmyn King.

The panel was also designed to evoke change from officials and the community at large.

"What the public puts on us is detrimental, our mental health suffers so greatly," said speaker Mary Reinbold.

The guest speakers described shame they felt in the comments made by others.

"I've been told everything from stop having kids you can't afford, your car is too nice for you to be on food stamps, and what kind of phone do you have?" said speaker Amy Jo.

Some also described the shame they felt in the glares received on trips to the grocery store.

"I see it whenever people check me out, I see it in the people standing in line," said speaker Ashley Ramsden. "I remember everything I got in my cart that day. Fresh fruits and vegetables, everything my one and a half year old was going to need."

The point of the panel, sponsored by Healthy Kids Coalition and The Soup Kitchen of Greater Wheeling, was to bring up topics that are hard to discuss and to look at the problem from a humanistic perspective, rather than a numerical one.

Organizers hope that local officials will attend the next panel.

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