Last Wednesday, February 2nd, at 11:30AM, a coalition of West Virginia organizations and directly impacted mothers, parents and grandparents held simultaneous press conferences in both DC and Charleston, WV, to amplify the voices of WV “Momma Bears” who wanted to remind Senator Manchin that 50,000 West Virginia children are now back below the poverty line with the elimination of the enhanced CTC. For WV children and families, poverty is #Unbearable.
To highlight the urgent need, the Unbearable Campaign was created to amplify these West Virginian “Mama Bears’” stories and aims to develop solidarity among parents nationwide. The campaign is grounded in the visual imagery of “loved on” teddy bears, to keep the focus on the children who are suffering, and vivid language—including bear metaphors—to raise awareness of families’ stories. For more information, visit www.unbearablecampaign.com.
Mama Bear mothers traveled to Washington, DC to share their stories with senators in front of 500+ teddy bears at the US Capitol. They were led by WV economic justice organizer Amy Jo Hutchison. We hope the stories will be heard by the senate and inspire action by the federal government.
At the same time, here in Charleston, WV, a small group stood outside Senator Manchin’s office and read quotes from West Virginia mothers on how our families and children are suffering. Without the aid of the Enhanced Child Tax Credit, things are just Unbearable.
Quotes from the Charleston event are at the bottom of this article.
The coalition supporting these efforts includes: the West Virginia Council of Churches, Young West Virginia Forward, the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, West Virginia Citizen Action Group, Rattle the Windows, American Friends Service Committee West Virginia Economic Justice Project, TEAM for West Virginia Children, National Association of Social Workers West Virginia Chapter, Race Matters West Virginia, and Community Change Action.
Quotes from Wednesday’s WV event
“As we stand outside the West Virginia state lottery building, it is a good reminder that we shouldn’t gamble with our children’s lives,” said United Methodist Pastor Jeff Allen. “It is not good to leave our children’s future to chance, not when we have the opportunity to even the odds for West Virginia children. It’s not good when children’s lives become unbearable for hunger, lack of daycare, lack of housing and poverty. As we stand here today, we know that mothers and fathers and advocates for children will be standing on the mall at Washington DC, all with 500 Teddy bears, each bear representing 100 children, fallen back into poverty with the expiration of the extended child tax.”
JoAnne Vance, a WV mother, said that “Now here we are in February with no child tax credit and all of the families that I’ve organized with and worked with for six months to try to get the child tax credit extended are hurting and are suffering. People who didn’t have to live from paycheck to paycheck because of the child tax credit are now having their bills [pile up], getting their power cut off, having water cut off, having to choose between what bills to pay and what groceries to buy at the grocery store. I’m a part of a group.”
“It’s unacceptable and unbearable,” said Amber Roy, a WV mother. “Senator Manchin… listen, you’ll never know. You will never know what it’s like to only be allowed to buy your child one gift for Christmas because that’s all you can afford. You will never know what it’s like to have to choose which utility bill you pay to make sure that your kids don’t go without. You will never know what it’s like to carry a calculator in the grocery store to make sure that you don’t go over your budget and have to put main items back because you did. You will never know what that’s like. You will never know what it’s like to have to explain to your child how to cook something extra on your way to work in case they’re still hungry after they eat the dinner you prepare because there’s not enough. You’ll never know what that’s like, but I do. We do. And we are screaming to tell you don’t turn your back on our kids.”