Poverty education program enriches lives for Moffat County residents
United Way graduates 12 from class, accepting applications for fall session
April 1, 2016
Betsy Foos is not ashamed to say she's had hardships in life.
Some of the struggles she's gone through have had far-reaching effects on her self-image and her bank account alike, creating a vicious cycle.
And, thanks to her recent educational experience, the stigma of being poor is not a label she chooses to accept any longer.
Moffat County United Way'sMoffat County United Way’s “Getting Ahead in a Just-Gettin’-By World” honored 12 graduates Thursday night at the Center of Craig. "Getting Ahead in a Just-Gettin'-By World" honored 12 graduates Thursday night at the Center of Craig.
Moffat County United Way's "Getting Ahead in a Just-Gettin'-By World" honored 12 graduates Thursday night at the Center of Craig.
Put on through United Way's Community Impact Program, the class, part of the Bridges Out of Poverty initiative, includes 18 weeks of sessions for those seeking to improve their lives financially and otherwise for themselves and their families.
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One of the key lessons that students learn is that poverty isn't simply not having enough money, said Aspen Matthews, community impact coordinator. Individual behaviors and choices, community conditions, exploitation and political and economic structures are components of the problem, which is bigger than just one person or one town.
This is the third year of the program and the fifth total class, Matthews having overseen two graduations.
"I like to think I've made a lot more community connections and we have a lot of community support, that's what makes this program so successful," she said.
The dozen graduates include Kelly Bays, Betsy Foos, Jordan Harmon, Danae Hicks, Cathy Joslin, Roscoe Lofton, Thomas Mathers, Aristel Nopee, Justin T. Shinn, Ashleigh Watson, Rick James Wieland and LJ Williams.
Though the program has seen larger numbers, the smaller class size had some benefits, one member needing to drop out for a good reason: starting a new job.
The variety of backgrounds of the people with "Getting Ahead" is an indicator of how everyone can benefit from what the program has to offer, Matthews said as she addressed the crowd, which ranged from family and friends to local elected officials.
"Our graduates have gone on to stabilize their world; build physical, emotional and financial resources; further their education gain self-sufficiency and remove community and systemic barriers," she said. "This group is poised to go on to accomplish all this and more."
Foos, voted by her classmates to give the commencement address, said it was a medical issue that contributed to her being in poverty, however it was thinking of herself as "poor" that affected her most, and Foos called on her fellow graduates to not see themselves this way.
"These people are smart, talented, funny, classy, beautiful, wonderful souls," she said. Foos also noted that everyone is touched by poverty, directly or otherwise, and it is within the power of all in a community to make a difference in others' lives and help them see their self-worth in ways other than what's printed on their bank statement.
With a catch in her throat and tears in her eyes, Foos thanked the organizers and fellow students of the program for being on the journey with her.
"I can never show how grateful I am to each of you for giving me back the most important thing I had lost: my own self-respect," she said.
Applications are being accepted through Aug. 1 for the fall cycle of "Getting Ahead in a Just-Gettin'-By World."