Forum Panelists (L-R): Kathy Edin; Latoya Gardner, JD, Pisgah Legal Services; Bella Jackson, Voices for Economic Justice Facilitator, UNC-A student; Sala Menaya-Merritt, YWCA of Asheville; Carmen Ramos-Kennedy, Just Economics of WNC and Asheville Buncombe County NAACP. (Photo by Jesse Kitt)

How are people who live in deep poverty making ends meet? In a word, plasma.

On October 4, more than 700 people gathered at the U.S. Cellular Center in Asheville to hear Princeton sociologist Kathy Edin at Pisgah Legal’s 8th Annual Poverty Forum. Edin shared insights gathered during decades of on-the-ground research with people living in deep poverty in the United States.

Edin told the crowd that the United States now provides 70 percent of the world’s plasma due to so many Americans selling their blood product for cash. “We are the OPEC of plasma to the rest of the world,” said Edin.

At the Forum Edin spoke about the great rise in the number of families living on practically no cash following the passage of welfare reform in the mid-1990s. She said the number of families living on extremely little cash – $2/day or less – more than doubled between 1996 and 2011 – reaching 1.5 million households in 2011. This is chronicled in the book she co-authored with Luke Shaefer, $2 A Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America.

Edin also spoke of new strategies to address poverty, such as employers hiring social workers to work with their employees to address income issues before they spiraled out of control.

After Edin’s keynote, guests heard from a panel of local nonprofit leaders (shown above) who spoke about what local low-income women and their families are facing.

At the end of the evening, guests heard from Pisgah Legal representatives, Kelly, a client,  and attorney Julia Horrocks who announced the Justice for Women Giving Challenge issued by generous donors who are matching gifts to Pisgah Legal Services through the end of the year.


Pisgah Legal thanks the following sponsors for making the Forum possible:

Partners For Justice
The following generously provide $5,000 or more each year in financial or in-kind support to Pisgah Legal Services.

Claudia Ann Baldwin
Shelley and Kirk Brown
The Chaddick Foundation
Fran and Allan Fedor
Arnold and Bernice Green
Theresa and Gary Landwirth
Sue and Raymond McClinton
The Oliver Family
Rosalind Willis and Greg Olson
Eleanor and Charlie Owen
Jacquelyn and Bruce Rogow
Susan and Charlie Shanor
Pam and Tom Siekman
Jerry Sternberg
Jane and Bill Swafford
Pam and Jim Turner
Terry and Ted Van Duyn






Jay Kerr Law 2011

Mission Health









As well as these event sponsors

Amplify My Community
Celine & Company Catering
Pat and Phil Smith
WNC Woman Magazine

The Law Firm of Leah Broker, PA
Cassie Dillon
Jennie Eblen and Rick Perkins
Leslie Sladky-Hillman and Ed Hillman
Kennon and Bill Jamieson
Mosaic Community
Lifestyle Realty
My Father’s Pizza and Pasta
PNC Bank
Suzy and Ed Rankin
US Cellular Center

Patricia Deck
Cindy and Tom Donahue
Earth Equity Advisors
Dr. Bruce Elliston
Anna and Kerry Friedman
Jesse Kitt Photography
Connie Lomax
Lee Anne and Peter Mangone
Planned Parenthood – Asheville Health Center
Samsel Architects
Kitty Schaller
Caron and Brian Smith
Janie and Larry Wilson
Windsor Boutique Hotel
Ann Young

Blackbird Frame & Art
Sarah V. Corley/MediationWorks
Patricia Robertson and Curry First
Judy Futch Consulting, Inc.
Linda and Chris Greensfelder
Jacque Penick and Harold Holcombe
Rebecca and Robert Pitts
Self-Help Credit Union
Abby and Austin Walker
YWCA of Asheville and WNC