U students raise awareness about poverty

Shannon Geshick Bullen doesnâÄôt have much free time. The St. Paul mother of three is pursuing a business degree at Saint Paul College while working part-time . But Geshick Bullen, who has lived in poverty her whole life, finds time to work with an advocacy group fighting for an issue dear to her: ending poverty. She spoke Friday as part of a poverty convention held in Coffman Memorial Union . Six students from the Leadership, You and Your Community class organized the event to increase awareness about poverty and connect students to volunteer opportunities. A junior in the class, Maddy Mason, said the event was organized to increase empathy among students about poverty. âÄúWe just wanted to make sure that people understand that this is a real issue and that thereâÄôs people who canâÄôt fill their gas tank and pay for their groceries,âÄù she said. To connect students with volunteer opportunities, area low-income and homelessness organizations were invited. Marsha Cressy , member of Low-Income Fellows Together to End Poverty , also spoke about her struggles with poverty. About 9 years ago, Cressy found herself without health insurance while between jobs. After she stopped taking her medications she could no longer afford, she had a debilitating stroke. âÄúThis is the kind of thing that happens because of the current system in Minnesota,âÄù she said. In 2007, 12.5 percent of Americans lived below the poverty line, which is currently $21,200 for a family of four, according to the Census Bureau . Klair Hans, an art junior said she came to the convention along with her roommate. However, she said sheâÄôs now interested in volunteering with some of the anit-poverty groups. âÄúThat meant a lot to hear what itâÄôs really like rather than just hearing other people say povertyâÄôs an issue,âÄù Hans said.