St. Vincent de Paul vouchers help families find just what they need

CINCINNATI -- St. Vincent de Paul's voucher program is helping low-income families afford more than $800,000 in donated goods that would otherwise be out of their financial reach.

Tanisha Turney has a college degree, but said Wednesday that finding steady employment that can support her family is still a challenge. Large purchases and luxuries, such as new furniture, end up at the bottom of her priorities list behind meeting more basic needs.

"A lot of things would be better if I had a job," she said.

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With vouchers given by to her by St. Vincent de Paul volunteers, who evaluate each applicant's need and distribute vouchers accordingly, Turney was able to pick up a new (used) couch from a thrift store to replace an old, peeling one at her home.

A little less than half of Greater Cincinnati's children live in poverty, according to 2016 census data -- a percentage that has steadily risen since at least 2006. Although many local organizations exist to alleviate this problem, such as the Child Poverty Collaborative and Childhood Food Solutions, St. Vincent de Paul operations organizer Prentice Carter said the ‘thousand-cuts' approach might be less effective than collaborating across organizations.

"There may not be enough unity in all of these agencies to fix poverty," he said. "Trying to bring all of this assistance together may be more of a benefit, but it's easier said than done."

But it's worth doing for the sake of families like Turney's, who might live in fear of not being able to provide for the children among them.

"It's a lot of people out here that need a helping hand," Turney said. "It's a lot of people that need a job. When it comes down to them needing things, some people are scared."

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