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Poverty rate reaches historic highs

By CU-CitizenAccess — Last year was a painful one for about one in seven families as the annual poverty rate rose for a third year in a row. The 2009 poverty rate was14.3 percent for the U.S. , according to a new report released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The number of people in poverty now is the highest number in 51 years, according to a release issued Thursday.


Woman finds education and family time through local program

By Will Atwater—Moms and toddlers sat shoulder-to-shoulder in a semicircle inside the Columbia Street Center’s preschool and sang “The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round” and other children’s songs.

Will Atwater/Shayla Brown, center, enjoys a light moment with her children, Erica,1, and Xavier, 2, during a Parent and Child Together activity the Columbia Center School in Champaign.

Couple serves those in need with seasonal 'canteen run'

CHAMPAIGN — 6:29 p.m.: Barb and Dan Davies finish loading the Salvation Army van – what they affectionately call “the canteen.”

Clothes, including a pair of boots. Canned food, with Pop Top lids. A thermos, full of hot coffee. All are donations to be handed out to the street people who need them. What Christians Dan and Barb didn’t pack – what they say they’ll never offer -- are sermons on the ills of alcohol and drug use or anything else blamed for homelessness. It’s an entirely deliberate omission.

Vernon Jones/Dan and Barb Davies of Savoy are organizers for Champaign-Urbana's Canteen Run. The Outreach program relies on the Salvation Army's "canteen" to seek out and provide area street people with food, clothing and information about social services. It also depends on volunteers from local churches, including the Davieses' Savoy United Methodist.

Campustown proves profitable for panhandler

CHAMPAIGN – David Sankey swallows the last of his coffee with a gulp. “I just came in here for a break,” he says, rising from his seat in a cafe at Daniel and Sixth streets. “I got to get back to work – otherwise, I’d be a lazy bum and not a panhandler.”

Vernon Jones/ Panhandler David Sankey (l) chats with University of Illinois freshman Shawn Resendiz recently on Daniel Street, just east of Sixth Street.

Local need may draw microfinance bank

Could a local branch of Grameen Bank work here in Champaign-Urbana?

Grameen America, the microfinancing organization for the poor, announced it has entered into discussions with Champaign developer Peter Fox about establishing a branch of Grameen Bank in East Central Illinois.

Robin Scholz - The News-Gazette/ Nobel Peace Prize Winner Muhammad Yunus, left, signs copies of his books for Tasneem,left, and Murtaza Husain, Champaign, at the University of Illinois Business Instructional Facility in Champaign on March 1 , 2010.

Man started bank that provides loans to the poor

“Not credit-worthy.”

That is what the local bankers told Muhammad Yunus when he met with them in Bangladesh over 30 years ago to ask them why they would not loan to the poor in the village of Jobra.

Robin Scholz - The News-Gazette/ Nobel Peace Prize Winner Muhammad Yunus signs copies of his books at the University of Illinois Business Instructional Facility in Champaign on March 1, 2010.

A Complicated Life: The road less traveled

In December Yolanda’s public aid benefits were reinstated and though she doesn’t have a job currently, she is still in the No Limits program and continues to meet with Woodard on a regular basis. 

An Ameren IP representative was able to ignite the pilot light and Davis and her family have heat.

Since Jan. 10, Yolanda has been attending adult education classes on a weekly basis and she has also enrolled in Even Start, an educational program for mothers and their children.


Will Atwater/Yolanda Davis poses with Jalen,9, and Janae, 8.

A Complicated Life: Unresolved issues

Davis believes the issues Yolanda had with her late mother are still not resolved.

“The death of her mother plays a big part in [Yolanda’s] life … as far as how she [acts] towards the kids because she does not want to treat [them] they way she was treated,” he said.

Will Atwater/ Yolanda Davis at her southwest Champaign rental home.

¨ Copyright 2011 CU-CitizenAccess.