Ohio Values: This photo reminds Jennifer Pollock of tough lessons that made her more compassionate

'We all have value'
Posted at 7:00 AM, Nov 03, 2020

CINCINNATI — Jennifer Pollock was homeless during the summer of 2018 and for many months after that – a circumstance she never imagined for herself back when she worked as a paramedic.

An injury on the job led to treatment with pain medication that spiraled into addiction. After her disability pay ran out, Pollock and her husband moved to a less expensive place before they ended up living in tents along Third Street in downtown Cincinnati.

Her friends there called her “Sunshine.” And as dark as those days felt at times, Pollock said they opened her eyes and changed the way she thinks when she votes.

“When you drive down the road and you see a homeless person or you hear the guy a few houses down has an addiction issue or you know somebody that is having to get on some type of government assistance or doesn’t have medical coverage,” she said, “each individual has their own thing, their own demons. But what they’re going through, and what we’re going through, doesn’t make us bad people.”

Jennifer "Sunshine" Pollock, a former homeless resident of Third Street, speaks during a protest on July 25, 2018.

Pollock talked with WCPO about the importance of empathy and the power of community as part of an audio story series called Ohio Values.

The idea behind the series is to give local, national and global audiences insight into what matters to Ohio voters in advance of the 2020 presidential election.

To create Ohio Values, journalists from six news outlets spent the past several months interviewing voters throughout the state to get their perspectives.

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All interviews were conducted using the story-gathering tool A Picture’s Worth, where voters selected a photograph that is important to them and then discussed the photo and the values they hold dear.

WCPO published two Ohio Values stories earlier this year.

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The Cincinnati Herald, a WCPO media partner, also has published Ohio Values stories about local voters. Those stories are available here.

For Pollock’s story, she chose a photo that she and her husband took of themselves during the time they were homeless.

Jennifer Pollock, right, and her husband, Stephen, took this photo in 2018 during a time when they were homeless.

“We made it through, and I don’t think there’s anything that could take us down now,” she said. “We all have value. All of us. Every single person.”

Listen to the full audio story below:

Go to the Ohio Values homepage to discover more stories in this series and to subscribe to the Ohio Values newsletter.