Why It Counts to Be Counted

October 11, 2019 WV Staff

“The 2020 Census is coming. For the large part of my life, the Census played like background music. I knew it was there, but I didn’t pay much attention to the lyrics. 

The Census drops in every ten years as this big thing. But honestly, I hadn’t spent much time thinking about it in my own neighborhood. Yet as 2020 nears, and the Census conversation picks up, I began connecting the dots between the Census process, taking the Census, and my life. I’ve learned that funding determined by Census numbers supports schools, SNAP and Medicaid, to name a few things.

But everything really clicked a couple of months ago, when I saw the Census walk by me.

How did the Census walk by? Well, it didn’t; a middle-aged woman walking in the hot August sun down a busy stretch of Route 60 on a Sunday afternoon did. 

You see, the woman was wearing her work uniform from a big supermarket chain, and I could tell she was walking away from work, mostly likely having just clocked out. It was Sunday. Our public transit doesn’t run on Sundays. Without her own vehicle, or ride to and from work, her only option on Sunday was to walk: walk to work, turn around and walk back home. I didn’t know her whole route home, but I could see she was in a dangerous spot to be walking during an excruciatingly hot time of the day. She had to be miserable.

So, how did the Census walk by? Here is where the lyrics become clearer: our neighborhood transit authority creates and justifies its bus routes, service dates and times by the data collected during the Census. You see, my working-class, low-income neighbor surrounds this supermarket. And yet, they apparently don’t have the data to see that we need transit on days like that.

I count. My neighbor counts. My neighbor’s kids count. As we fill out our Census form, we begin to tell the story of our neighborhood. We live in this neighborhood. We buy food, go to school, and go to work in this neighborhood. And we need buses and better roads to travel in this neighborhood. 

The Census walked by me that Sunday afternoon and made me more determined than ever to count myself and my household. I became determined to tell my neighbors, my community and my state how important it is to be counted.

Walking may be a choice, but it should not be the only option available.”

 Jennifer Wells, Executive Director,

WV Healthy Kids & Families Coalition


Do you care about being counted? Could your community be improved with more funding as a result of an accurate Census count? Join our #CountMeInWV movement and pledge to get counted in 2020! 

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Are you part of a group or organization that wants to spread the word about the Census? Become a member of our #CountMeInWV Coalition! We want to reach as many West Virginian communities as possible. For that, we need your help!