Kirsten Lodal has a story to tell you. It’s the story of 46 million Americans who live below the poverty line, the courage and conviction that it takes to dig one’s way out of hardship, and how, but for a single catastrophic event, anyone could find themselves in need.
As a sophomore at Yale, Lodal co-founded LIFT
, an organization that takes a holistic, comprehensive approach to dealing with disadvantage, working with one family at a time to address all of the interconnected factors that keep good people down. Volunteers work one-on-one with clients to secure housing, employment, and basic necessities.
“Poverty in America is complex and ever-growing; nearly half of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck,” Lodal says. “Yet to date, this issue has failed to mobilize the talent, resources, and most importantly, the ingenuity required to solve it. LIFT believes that this failure is largely due to a public misconception of poverty.”
LIFT will soon be launching a national storytelling campaign, hoping to correct the popular myths and stereotypes about poverty, why it exists, and whom it affects. The organization is also working on some starter ideas to pilot later this year, including everything from a LIFTopolis Hackathon to an “It Gets Better”-esque campaign focusing on crowd-sourced stories of vulnerable moments.
in Boston, New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington DC and Philadelphia, one of LIFT’s main messages is that the poor and the rest of us need the same things to weather crisis, Lodal says.
“The problem is that we’ve built a system to serve poor families that is completely disconnected from the systems we’ve built to support middle and upper income families,” she says. “Too often we focus solely on the economic resources poor families need, and in doing so, we only offer up one of three critical legs of support, support that most of us take for granted.”
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