Workshop introduces program to shed light on poverty

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Bridges Out of Poverty

If you go ...

What: Bridges Out of Poverty workshop

When: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday

Where: The Journey at First Baptist, 1150 W. Ninth St.

Cost: Free

— Light snacks and lunch will be provided, and the event is open to the public. For more information or to register, call Misty Schulze at 824-5379 or email her at mschulze@omni.org.

You get up in the morning, shower, get dressed and go to work.

Easy, right?

It is if you can afford a car, said Annette Norton, probation supervisor for the 14th Judicial District Probation Department.

Reliable transportation is often a given for people who live in the middle class, but it can be a more troublesome issue for people living below the poverty line.

“When you’re operating from a middle class mindset, I don’t think that we have a clear understanding of where our friends in poverty are coming from,” Norton said.

She’s part of a core group trying to help bring a program to Craig that could help bridge that gap.

Bridges Out of Poverty is designed to shed light on the “mental maps of poverty” and uncover ways to help residents in need, Norton said. It’s a program she and other event organizers are hoping to bring to Moffat County.

A workshop Tuesday will introduce residents to the program, which has been implemented in other communities across the country.

The event takes place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at The Journey at First Baptist, 1150 W. Ninth St. There is no fee to register, and the event is open to the public.

The idea to bring the program to Craig began about two years ago, yet the plan was put in motion only recently, workshop facilitator Misty Schulze said in an email.

“... The taskforce working on this so far has really tried to organize things in such a manner that resources are best used, the right stakeholders are supportive and the community is ready to address the issue of poverty,” said Schulze, who also is a regional prevention consultant for the Colorado Department of Behavioral Health and Omni Institute.

The day-long session will use statistics and other data to identify poverty’s presence locally.

The event also is designed to go beyond the hard numbers. The goal of Tuesday’s workshop is to give a clearer picture of the mindsets that govern poverty and middle class.

Poverty isn’t solely a financial situation, Norton said. It also often comes with a unique language, culture and values.

“Often times, professionals that are working with folks that are in poverty are working from a different norm,” she said.

Norton would like to see a steering committee form to determine which demographics would benefit the most Bridges Out of Poverty. Those target populations can range from children and teens to adults, she said.

A possible template for Moffat County’s adoption of the program lies due east in Routt County.

There, organizers have started a series of classes in which participants reflect on how poverty has affected them, create goals for their future and identify resources for moving up the economic ladder.

Ideally, it also would include a partnership with local businesses through which participants could find work, Norton said.

Regardless of what shape the program takes, organizers believe understanding must come first.

“This workshop is designed to empower those living in poverty, focusing on (their) strengths while gaining a deeper understanding of their challenges,” Schulze said.

For more information or to register, call Misty Schulze at 824-5379 or email her at mschulze@omni.org.

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