Marc Chase

Marc Chase

Teetering over the edge.

It's the way so many of our Region's working poor families feel on a daily basis.

They're working hard to help themselves, never getting ahead and skirting a figurative high ledge, always one misstep away from the disaster of actual poverty.

Now one Region nonprofit is offering a way for people and companies with financial means to help these families, headed by hard-working parents, to further themselves from the abyss.

I hope as many as are able join me in this cause.

We're not just asking you to help. The Times top managers — Publisher Chris White, General Manager Joe Battistoni and myself — are paying to literally walk off the side of a building in solidarity with Northwest Indiana families struggling over the edge of poverty.

Lake Area United Way is offering the Over the Edge fundraiser as a means to raise money for the Region's working poor. Participants who pay the $95 registration fee and raise at least $1,000 each will don special harnesses attached to ropes and rappel, i.e. walk backward, off the rooftop and 80 feet down over the side of the Centier Bank tower in Merrillville.

This ultimate of dares commences at 8 a.m. July 7, and the goal is to raise $100,000. As of Friday, that number stood at about $22,000, according to the Lake Area United Way's website.

Much more help is needed to reach that threshold.

The household survival budget for Lake County, an amount that allows for no savings, is $53,981 for two parents with an infant and toddler and $18,138 for a single adult, according to a United Way report on Asset Limited Income Constrained Employed, or ALICE, households.

One in four Lake County households falls into that category. That doesn't include the 16 percent who earn less than the federal poverty level.

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These aren't just numbers. They're our neighbors.

I had the honor of reporting about one of these families, headed by 25-year-old working mom Dayna, of Hebron, in 2016.

At the time, the single mother of two children, ages 3 and 6, was working midnights in an Illinois plastics factory, teetering one financial setback away from the poverty line.

Joy was defined by having milk and basic food on hand for her children.

These are the people we have the best chance, as a society, of saving.

They already know the value of hard work.

They're making their best efforts to take care of themselves and their own.

Let's help them turn the corner, through employment searches, education or other services. Let's help bridge the gap between survival and financial solvency.

The Lake Area United Way had dedicated nearly its entire mission in recent years to helping the Region's working-poor families.

Even if the thrill seeking of rappelling off the Centier building isn't your thing, your donations to the cause will help.

I'm ready to white-knuckle it over the edge if it means helping these families already doing what they can to help themselves.

Consider following the information attached to this column to help the United Way in keeping so many of our neighbors from falling over a real financial precipice.

Local News Editor Marc Chase can be reached at (219) 933-3327 or marc.chase@nwi.com. Follow him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/marc.chase.9 or Twitter @nwi_MarcChase. The opinions are the writer's.