from M Live
BY CEDRIC RICKS
KALAMAZOO -- Rose McKenney doesn't work anymore.
She is 74, has arthritis and struggles to make ends meet on Social Security and a pension that amounts to $500 a year.
McKenney, a Kalamazoo resident, said almost half her income goes to pay the mortgage on her house and that the state would offer her only $10 a month in food stamps. She also has co-pays to make on medications.
``I'm on a tight budget. I have nothing left at the end of the month,'' McKenney said. ``I can't even go to bingo or nothing with my friends, I don't have the money. I can't buy clothes; I don't have the money.''
She was one of several speakers Thursday night who attended a community forum on poverty and asked state officials to help people struggling to make ends meet. About 100 people came to the forum, at First Baptist Church in downtown Kalamazoo.
The event included speakers who wanted help for grandparents raising grandchildren and better assistance for people coming out of state prisons.
It was hosted by the Michigan Commission on Community Action and Economic Opportunity in partnership with the Kalamazoo County Poverty Reduction Initiative. It was one of six meetings scheduled around the state to prepare for a Michigan poverty summit in early 2008.
Anna Marie Rogers spoke about the need for help in paying for health care and mental-health services and for steady employment.
``I'm not living in poverty or speaking on behalf of myself,'' said Rogers, a retired Detroit schoolteacher who now lives in Kalamazoo. ``I'm speaking more on behalf of my daughter and a friend that I'm assisting.''
Rogers said her 26-year-old daughter has an attention-deficit disorder, is learning disabled, has many health problems and needs mental-health services.
Rogers said she's managed to get health coverage for her adult daughter under her own insurance at a cost of $453 per month but fears the insurance will run out in March, forcing her to pay for her daughter's medications.
Rogers says she has her own medical issues and takes 12 prescription drugs.
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