Dayton family on ‘The Briefcase’ Wednesday

The Owens' Family stars on the new reality series, The Briefcase (Source: CBS)

Lucy and Robert Owens are Dayton natives making their television debut on the new CBS reality show The Briefcase, airing Wednesday at 9 p.m./8c.

The show is about middle income families who suddenly become the benefactors of $100,000.

The only catch — they must decide what to do with that money. They could keep all of the money for themselves or give all or part of it to another family in need or a cause they support.

Cameras follow Lucy and Robert as they make that decision.

Critics have accused the show of "taking advantage of the poor," likening it to "Hunger Games" by saying that it humiliates the poor.

But the Owens see it differently. Lucy, the programs coordinator at Wright State University for the Upward Bound Program, and Robert, an education consultant, talked with us about life, the show, and the cash that changed their lives:

Q: As a Dayton family, what are ways you think you’ll be able to impact the Dayton community, and the area in which you live?

Lucy: "Majorly. First with the arts and theater, the things we love, the educational system, community. Our children are really really big on recycling, but most importantly for us I think being able to give back to our community — what we love, our core beliefs, and Robert's  educational consulting company which is grounded in arts — urban creative arts and education. So for us that definitely will be two areas for us, that we do plan to give back and have always given throughout our entire adulthood."

Robert: "We've always serviced the community through our time, by showing up and physically being there. I think that the awesome thing about giving time, is that now we will be able to take a more philanthropic approach as well. It's good to give time, but sometimes it's better to give dollars because that is what's needed.  So now we have the opportunity to do both. We get the awesome opportunity, for us to impact the community.

Q: How challenging, if at all, has it been for the past few years taking care of, and supporting your family?

Robert: "The show is more focused on middle class families, making a decision that would not just challenge their ethics but everything they believe in. I don't think the show is geared toward that. There are a lot of critics out there who are going with that angle. But the show is more geared toward making a serious decision and creating a serious discussion, not just with the families involved but the families that are watching the program as well."

Q: What’s your response to the critics, who say the show is like 'Hunger Games,' taking advantage of middle class families?

Robert:  "That was one of the things we really hoped to address. For us, we had an awesome experience. You have to watch the show. No one put us against anyone. It wasn't the 'Hunger Games' concept people would have you believe. There is a lot of irresponsible journalism going on. It was an awesome experience for anyone involved and for anyone watching."

Lucy: "I enjoyed the process from beginning to end, as far as what it meant for my family and taking that type of walk. I think as a middle-class family, most times you have some savings but most times you're managing your lifestyle. Having children complicates things a little more. So, I think when looking at the show, and any type of criticism is a part of life.  At the end of the day, when looking at the entire experience and from any perspective, you have to grow as a human being. Even if you are making one-hundred thousand dollars or more a year, you're not receiving at one time, if you're doing the right type of work.

Q: What were your initial thoughts when you received the briefcase of money?

Lucy: "Shock for me! I was more focused on our home improvements and repairs. Initially for me, I was pretty taken a back. I've lived for 40 years and no one has walked in my home ever with 100,000 dollars in cash and just gave it to us. So, for me it was definitely a shock.  But, you put in the work and opportunities like this will present themselves along the way, we would hope spiritually."

Robert: "Well, were originally under the assumption that this was a home improvement show. I think we were then very excited that we were going to get some home repairs done, which we really wanted to have done and were kind of pricey. So, that was very exciting. But, as it progressed and they walked in with that briefcase, it was mind-blowing. To keep it all in perspective, it was not a one-million-dollar check. But still, a one-hundred thousand dollar check, last I checked, I don't know anyone who would turn down an extra one-hundred thousand. It is really a once in a lifetime experience, not just receiving, giving, the whole process of going through the situation, from the decision making to growing as a family. From start to finish, our family grew so much, our relationship grew so much, it was one of the most positive experiences I have ever been a part of. I am very proud that we decided to do it because we are a very closed-circle family, we are very tight knit, and we don't necessarily share a lot with everyone. So, it was an awesome experience to have this chance and hopefully to give people inspiration about how we've come along, the things we are able to do, and to motivate people to see that there are still decent people around."

Q: What do you want people to keep in mind about the show and watching you guys?

Lucy: "That we're human. I think for myself, that we are human beings. Only once in a lifetime do you get a chance to make decisions to do things differently as a family. I want them to know that people have children, and that their choices are their choices, and they should be allowed to have them. I think people watching the show tomorrow should just be prepared for a wonderful exciting, fast paced, high energy, and spiritual walk through our daily lives. "

Robert: "I think one of the realest episodes to come out, like the caption says on the briefcase website, prepare to be impressed. I think that's where it will lie, prepare to be impressed."

Q: What has been the most challenging part about the experience?

Lucy: "I mean money and marriage! I think really when you look at the challenges from our side, it's just always about staying grounded and keeping things in perspective. But Dave Broome and his entire team were just wonderful for us.  I also think being grounded and allowing people to have their moment. People are going to see more of what they want to see. If someone wants to see you happy and seen in a bright light, they are going to see that. If someone is looking and wanting to see negative, they are going to find a way to see it. So the most challenging thing has been really submitting ourselves to the fact that, we did a project, the project is airing tomorrow, and for me personally, maybe not Robert, but we are going to be on national television — that doesn't happen every day. Our home, our life, our kids, that's a bit much! But it's about getting the proper support and doing what you need to do with it to ensure success overall long term."

Robert: "I agree to an extent. I feel like with that type of money there is a specific type of responsibility. When things like this occur, money is a hallucinogen for some people, so you have to be able to keep things in perspective for yourself, and be able to keep the people around you in the proper perspective. I don't think we talk enough about people winning the lottery and the instant millionaires, dealing with the issues that come in the social arena — people possibly treating you differently or all the new friends that you didn't have before. I think you just being grounded and being able to understand this walk and that this is what comes with it. People always ask — oh, I wish I could get a lot of money, but they don't ever think about the flipside of what comes with that money. It comes with great responsibility and you have to be very grounded and not to drink your own Kool-Aid, so to speak."

Lucy: "We're excited as a family with this new step in life. There are always going to be some things you like about it and some things you don't. We tell our children every single day that when you look at childhood vs adulthood. But this process has been wonderful, the entire team was great."

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