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Free Showing of Documentary Aims to Unmask Face of Poverty in Region

Posted on September 19, 2018

Johnstown, PA (Sept. 18, 2018) –We hear the word “poverty” used often to describe individuals and family members in financial crisis, unemployed and underemployed, struggling to meet basic human needs such as food and shelter. But how many of us truly understand what it means to live in poverty?

The documentary We Wear the Mask, which was filmed in Western Pennsylvania, follows three very different families. Through their eyes, it examines how living in poverty impacts their lives. The public is invited to a FREE showing of the film on September 25, 2018 at 7 p.m. at the Murtha Center on the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown campus. The screening is hosted by Pitt Johnstown in partnership with The Learning Lamp, Community Foundation for the Alleghenies, and Goodwill Industries of the Southern Alleghenies.

The film’s executive producer and poverty expert Tammy Thompson will take part in a question and answer session after the film. Thompson and Pittsburgh-based filmmaker Michael Savisky produced the documentary with a $45,000 grant from the Heinz Endowments. Thompson said the psychological effects of poverty are far-reaching, and women are statistically more likely to feel the impact.

Thompson explained that poverty is often so brutal that it becomes your identity. To hide from the stigma, people put on a public face or mask as a show of normalcy. But she said that mask can become a barrier to healing. In Cambria County, about 20% of families with children under age 18 live at or below the Federal Poverty Level, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s most recent American Community Survey. That percentage increases dramatically among families headed by single mothers where one in two lives in poverty.

Since its release in 2017, We Wear the Mask has been shared with audiences in an effort to turn the spotlight towards an often overlooked and underestimated segment of society. To learn more about the film, visit https://www.wewearthemaskfilm.com/#film-section.

The Learning Lamp is a nonprofit organization with a mission to engage all children in the support they need to succeed. We deliver high quality programs that are affordable and accessible to families of all income levels. The Learning Lamp served 37,197 children and adults from 52 school districts and 71 non-public and private schools and other organizations in 19 Pennsylvania counties and communities in Maryland and West Virginia in 2017.

Our programs include: one-to-one tutoring; before/after school programs; portable classrooms aimed at building math and science skills; alternative education programs for at-risk students; evidence-based prevention programs; online learning and credit recovery; SAT preparation; educationally-focused child care; literacy-based preschool programs; and grant writing and project consulting for schools.

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