It’s often said that living in poverty, or low-income, is not just a lack of money, but rather a lack of resources. Those resources are often what brings stabilization to families, and allows them to make steps toward self-sufficiency.
For C. Kim Bracey, Former Mayor of York City, her family’s biggest resource was, without a doubt, community. Family, church friends, teachers and neighbors all came together to provide support – something that gave Kim the inspiration to give back to the community later in life.
“Everyone sort of helped one another out,” she said. “Everyone kind of knew each other.”
Kim grew up with her three siblings and single mother in York City. Her mother worked hard to provide for her family – financially and socially. As the oldest child, she remembers that she and her siblings were active in after-school programs, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and the Princess Street Center, where Kim said she learned etiquette, crocheting and even how to fold a napkin.
Meanwhile, her mother was determined to make a way for her family through good employment, schooling, keeping her children active in the community, and making sure she was providing the best, and safest, housing for her family.
Kim has vivid memories of her days as a Head Start student with Community Progress Council. She can rattle off name after name of teachers and other people that worked with she and her siblings. Those teachers, many of them friends of her mother, had a lasting impression on Kim.
Kim, like so many others in York and throughout the country, didn’t consider themselves to be poor. It was a way of life, or “our normal,” she added. The family gathered at the table every night, had dinner – maybe her mom’s goulash – and were surrounded by neighbors who lived just like them.
“I guess we were low-income, but we made it happen,” Kim said. “Everyone did the best they could.”
Kim’s own progress can be rooted through the determination of her mother, who turns 75 this spring.
“There were a lot of strong women in my life, but my mom is my biggest cheerleader,” she said. “She taught me that I needed to do all that I can in order to be the best I can be.”
~ C. Kim Bracey
Kim was sworn in as the City of York’s mayor in 2010 and served eight years. Her childhood and sense of community has provided her with the inspiration to help lift others out of poverty and to advocate for that close-knit community that decades earlier gave her family the support they needed.
“It was a great sense of unity,” she said.