Last Wednesday, I had the chance to hear Dr. Donna Beegle speak about her new non-profit called Poverty Bridge, who's mission is providing opportunities for moving out of poverty. It was a very powerful experience for me, because I tend to get so focused on helping eliminate poverty "over there" in third world countries that I completely ignore the poverty right under my own nose in my neighborhood, my workplace, Oregon, and the U.S. as a whole. While I am privileaged and blessed and live in a wealthy country I think it is easy to become so unaware of issues that my fellow Oregonians face.
Since Poverty Bridge is just launching there are focused on five programs and services right now:
1. Opportunity Conference - which is designed for people currently living in poverty. This conference addresses issues of shame and isolation, while offering ways to empower and build hope and connections with Navigators, people who are available to help those in need get out of poverty.
2. Navigator Connections - a program designed to recruit and educate people who want to make a difference and help others out of poverty. Navigators agree to make a weekly phone call to Opportunity Conference participates for six months after the conference.
3. Research - focused on capturing what works for people who move out of poverty.
4. Authentic Voices Leadership Institute - a month-month curriculum for educating epople who have experienced poverty and who have succedded in breaking poverty barriers.
5. Making a Real Difference Website - a networking tool to help both Navigators and Opportunity Conference participants to connect with others involved to overcome issues and serve as a general database.
Sound like something you're interested in? Ask about being a Navigator or maybe make a donation. The Opportunity Conference is looking for items that can't be bought with food stamps, like soap and toothpaste, as well as fun prizes to be raffled off at the next Opportunity Conference on March 7, 2009!
Where have you seen poverty lately? Please comment!