Woman shares her story of overcoming poverty in Rapid City

Published: Mar. 28, 2017 at 5:19 PM MDT
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She travels across the country to talk about starting a war on poverty. Now she's bringing her message of hope to Rapid City.

Dr. Donna Beegle says, "I dropped out of school at fifteen, got married, and began living exactly as I'd grown up, which was in really deep poverty and unable to read a newspaper."

Part of her message is her own story.

Dr. Donna Beegle grew up in poverty -- and didn't find a way out until her late 20s, when a program stepped up to help her out.

Dr. Beegle says, "All of my brain was going where are my kids going to sleep tonight? And where are we going to lay our heads? When I got that security of housing, I actually had space to think about -- well, maybe I could get that GED they're talking about."

But the program was unique to her -- she says people didn't tell her what to do to get out -- they showed her.

Dr. Beegle says, "A lot of folks in the deepest poverty and they need someone to wrap their arms around them and say 'let me show you what this looks like' or 'let me explain what this word means' or 'let me explain how you can do this process."

Now Dr. Beegle travels the country to spread that message -- and show people what life outside of poverty looks like -- and educating people on what 'poverty' truly looks like.

Dr. Beegle says, "What most people know about poverty are the stereotypes and myths. We set up policies and programs based on that thinking. Often we end up doing a lot of unintentional harm. My work is to get people a shared language."

A point that was noted by some organizations, here in Rapid City.

Marcia Hultman, Secretary of the Department of Labor and Regulations says, "None of us become sufficient on our own. We all need help. We all need assistance. We all have people who stand by us and support us. And in the department, we're really well-poised to do that. So I just think we need to become even more human in our delivery of our services."

Dr. Beegle says it's important to remove the shame -- and rebuild the hope for people stuck in an impoverished lifestyle.

Dr. Beegle says, "The answer to poverty is people and it's poverty informed people coming together and saying what can you do and being inclusive of our neighbors fighting poverty."