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One man's path out of poverty

By Robert M. PressStaff writer of The Christian Science Monitor / April 1, 1985



Frogmore, S.C.

Joseph McDomick Jr. broke out of poverty without government assistance -- federal or other. ``My grandmother inspired me,'' he says. ``I can still hear her saying: `I can't read or write, but I want all my kids to.' ''

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And all 10 of them did.

Mr. McDomick's grandmother washed their school clothes every night because they had only one set each.

After graduating from college, McDomick joined the Peace Corps. Now he works here in Frogmore as a Peace Corps trainer for volunteers heading overseas. He also runs farmer-education programs here for the Penn Community Services program, which helps rural poor people in Beaufort and Jasper Counties.

McDomick, who is black, was raised by his grandparents, who were poor tenant farmers here in Beaufort County. He says that one day as he was plowing a field with a mule, he realized that was not what he wanted to do the rest of his life. So he began planning how to go to college. He enjoyed spelling and math contests in high school and made good grades. This led to a small scholarship to Southern University in Baton Rouge, La.

He hitchhiked to classes for lack of bus fare, often had no lunch money, and got most of his textbooks from the library instead of buying them.

But he graduated in 1960, with a degree in agriculture.

``Hard work, conservation [of funds], education, and self-discipline'' are the qualities needed to break out of poverty, he says.

McDomick offers this additional advice:

Parents must instill a desire in their children to want to be the best persons they can be. They need to maintain discipline at home, using spankings when appropriate, but they must also be interested in the children's school work and problems.

And, he emphasizes, family members must take time to ``love one another.''

The oldest of McDomick's four children is in college now, and he says he expects the others to go to college as well.