12 of 18
Atop a steep and rocky hill in Hindman, Kentucky, another of Oprah's special correspondents, Maria Shriver, met Candy, whose family has lived in Appalachia for three generations. For years, coal mining was the region's lifeline until the entire industry began to die out. As a result of the dwindling local economy, 65 percent of the people in Appalachia now live in poverty.

Since Candy's husband lost his job as a coal truck mechanic a year ago, the family has been living on food stamps and welfare. "It's hard not being able to buy the kids what they want," says Candy. "They won't even have [new] school clothes and shoes this year because I couldn't buy them. I've got no phone now. I barely can pay the electric [bill] and I'm behind on rent."

Candy says she does not feel poor, though her eyes fill with tears at the question. "I'm proud of my family…I'm proud of what I've got," Candy says. "I feel sad because people out here with money look down on us and talk about us like we're a bunch of dumb hillbillies. Well, we're not."
FROM: Oprah Special Report: Inside the Lives of America's Poor
Published on October 12, 2005


Next Story