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Taking a closer look at poverty

Mandy Mulder plans to visit the poorest areas in America.

Mandy Mulder isn't like most people. She doesn't just want to help people. She wants to personally experience their plight.

Mulder's passion for helping people will lead her on a three-month odyssey across America next spring. But Mulder won't see any tourist sights. She will spend her time on the road caring for the poor, hungry and destitute.

The 22-year-old Rosemount woman plans to document the whole thing on video and then share her findings with the world. The idea of the trip and subsequent documentary is to bring awareness to poverty in the United States. She's dubbed the project Mission America 2011.

"I think what I'm going to find is going to shock people," said Mulder.

Mulder plans to start her trek sometime in the spring. She hopes to leave in March. She will start in Maine and eventually end up in California.

Along the way she wants to stop in the poorest areas of all 48 contiguous states. She will connect with people by visiting shelters, food shelves, emergency sleeping rooms and churches.

"I'm going to submerge my life in poverty. I want to experience and see what it is truly like to be an American living in poverty. I want to be completely out of my comfort zone," said Mulder.

Mulder will travel the country in her 2003 yellow Dodge Neon with the clothes on her back.

At every stop Mulder will do an act of service such as serving a meal at a shelter or donating money. Currently Mulder is raising money so she can make a difference throughout the country.

"I want to make a positive impact on poverty through this experience," said Mulder.

The idea to do the trip came from a simple desire to do a road trip, but being a passionate activist Mulder decided she needed to do more than just see some sights.

"I want to see the unseen stuff. There are people in our backyard that don't have anything," said Mulder.

Mulder, who said she's been blessed throughout her life, hopes her documentary will show the pain and struggles that many American are facing. According to her web site, last year 43.6 million Americans lived under the poverty line.

"In reality we are all one bad event from homelessness," said Mulder.

Mulder wants the project to have a universal message and hopes it will influence others to act. She especially wants to inspire young people.

"I really want to hit young people and show them how powerful they can be," said Mulder.

In preparation for her journey Mulder is researching where she will stop. She is trying to drum up support and has done presentations at several churches and high schools, including her alma mater, District 196's School for Environmental Studies. She also is looking for a video production company to produce her film.

To learn more or to donate to Mission America visit

Emily Zimmer
Emily Zimmer has worked as a staff writer for the Rosemount Town Pages since 2007. She has a degree in journalism from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Outside of work, Emily enjoys running, reading and gardening. You can follow Emily's gardening adventures at the Areavoices blog East of Weedin'
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