Henniker is not without need. According to Census data found on American Fact Finder, there are 1080 families in Henniker, and of those families 17.1% (185 families) earn less than $50,000 annually. A closer look indicates that 12.2% (132 families) earn less than $35,000 annually. And, 3.4% (34 families) earn less than $14,999 annually. The Federal Poverty Level for a family with one child is $12,140 and two children is $16,460.
In all families, household income is a key component that drives spending priorities and decisions affecting the family unit. For higher income families, decisions may center around whether to eat organic foods, or where to go on vacation, or which car to buy. Decisions are made regarding opportunity. For low socioeconomic status families, decisions center on what is affordable, what is needed, and "what can we live without."
Unfortunately, the children of low socioeconomic status families, while still able to enjoy the love of their parents and a strong family environment, often go without opportunity. Something like high quality childcare, or summer camp, is not affordable for these families. These children go without key experiences and opportunities that will lead to a more successful and healthier life, and hopefully, a way to avoid repeating the cycle that leads to starting another family that becomes a member of the working poor.
This brief story illustrates this point.
Mom, we'll call her Debra, is in her early to mid-thirties. Her three older children are from a previous relationship and her two youngest children are from her current husband. White Birch has cared for all of her children at one point or another.
Debra seems always to be in a state of transition or crisis. She has relied on state assistance for child care but doesn't always keep up on her paperwork. Sometimes she makes just enough money that she loses her state assistance. Other times, even with state assistance, she can't pay White Birch because her child support has stopped for some reason. Car troubles, health issues, a desire to continue her education but a lack of time and money, her habit of smoking, all circle her life like vultures riding the wind, waiting for the right time to strike.
Through it all, knowing that her children need the stability and environment that we can offer, without judgement or criticism, White Birch has stuck with this family. We have had countless meetings to explain her statements, help Debra with her state assistance applications, encourage her desire to continue her education, and, most importantly, reinforce her children's development with love and a quality learning environment. Creating a stable, sustained, and available option for Debra and her children has not come without a price. Through the years, White Birch has absorbed over $10,000 to make this happen.
A few months ago, Debra arrived at White Birch with her oldest child, now a freshman in High School. Her daughter was coming back to White Birch to inquire about community service. Don't be concerned, this is a success story. Community Service is a requirement of John Stark Regional High School. Her daughter, again just a freshman, wanted to get ahead of the game and have her community service plan for her high school requirement in place early. Most John Stark Students don't even begin to think about their community service work until senior year. It was both Debra's and her daughter's wish to come back to the organization that they knew, and was a part of their lives, to help write that next chapter. Without hesitation, White Birch welcomed them back and we are proud of her as she continues on the path to success.