Image from Feeling the Pulse of Poverty, written and illustrated by Melissa Kendzierski, a project of Chilliwack Healthier Community’s poverty task team. (Melissa Kendzierski)

Image from Feeling the Pulse of Poverty, written and illustrated by Melissa Kendzierski, a project of Chilliwack Healthier Community’s poverty task team. (Melissa Kendzierski)

New storybook maps out the complexities of Chilliwack poverty

Author said eye-opening process of being graphic recorder showed her ‘it’s a matter of the heart’

Looking poverty in the face can be uncomfortable and messy.

That’s how graphic recorder Melissa Kendzierski described the process of writing and illustrating, Feeling the Pulse of Poverty: A Whole-Hearted Approach to Poverty Reduction in Chilliwack.

The poverty storybook was “a journey of discovery” for the author. The statistical story was backed by poignant and powerful images while brainstorming solutions.

“I found the process opened my eyes, challenged my spirit and has inspired me to uphold the small actions that collectively make a big difference,” wrote Kendzierski in her author’s note.

Aside from showcasing what some communities are doing to reduce the pain of poverty, the author shared that “the hope and the intention of this book is to point at the root – it’s a matter of the heart.”

The project was initially going to be a one-sheet on poverty reduction, but delving into the topic revealed how very complex and multi-layered the answers could be.

“Poverty isn’t simple, and can’t be simply fixed,” it says at one point.

It points out that one in five children in Chilliwack lives in poverty.

More eye-opening stats about Chilliwack:

• 27 per cent live in a place that doesn’t fit their needs;

• 43 per cent can’t buy healthy food;

• 18 per cent have bills overdue, or pay rent/mortgage late

• 40 per cent can’t afford the dentist

The project was an initiative by Chilliwack Healthier Community’s poverty reduction task team, and now it’s been printed in booklet form for the public. It can be picked up at several locations around town:

– Chilliwack Community Services, 45938 Wellington Ave.

– The Chilliwack Library, 45860 First Ave.

– The Sardis Library, 5819 Tyson Rd.

– The Yarrow Library, 4670 Community St.

– Chilliwack City Hall, 8550 Young Rd.

It is also online. For more resources go to PathwaysBC for Chilliwack and Fraser Health Rural.

Chilliwack Healthier Community (CHC) is a network of local partners focused on affordable/accessible housing, mental health, addictions, poverty reduction and cultural safety and humility. Partners include government, community agencies, law enforcement and business.

RELATED: Pathways make community services easy to search

RELATED: Poverty on the agenda virtually

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