Fort Scott Anti-poverty Program is about improving lives

Friday, June 5, 2015

Jean Tucker and Diana Endicott spoke Wednesday at the Bourbon County Coalition monthly meeting about Fort Scott Anti-poverty Programs, which started this year.

The Anti-poverty Program is a strategy that promises an enduring solution to ending poverty.

“It’s to help those who are struggling to survive,” Tucker said. “Through education and encouragement…Maybe someone who just lost a job, or just got a divorce and their income reduced, someone who has a serious disease. Maybe its situational poverty, not generational poverty.”

Tucker is a leader for supplying the meal component of Fort Scott Anti-poverty Program.

New session Sept. 1, with changes

A new session is starting Sept. 1 and will move to Tuesday evenings, but will still be from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The location will also change to Community Christian Church. A free meal, child care and transportation will still be provided as needed.

Also new, Jan Hedges will assume the position of leader of the local program.

“I’ll remain as facilitator and will be coordinator and coach for Fort Scott Anti-poverty Program initiative,” Hedges said in an interview with the Tribune.

Other facilitators who meet weekly with the participants are Endicott, David Goodyear and William James Schafer.

Currently the group meets on Wednesdays at the First Methodist Church.

Seeking new participants

Endicott asked the coalition members to nominate people that participate in their helping agencies that would benefit from the program.

“We are begging you to help us find people,” Endicott said. “The more people have, the more they can support each other. If two people have the strategies and skills to help themselves, then they help one another. We are hoping your agencies can help us find people who are interested in bettering their situation. It offers such a great support system.”

Presenters are also needed from the community to present life skill lessons in the coming months, Tucker said.

How does the Fort Scott Anti-poverty Program work?

The main question asked those who show interest in the program is “How badly do you want to change your situation?” Tucker said. “Are you drug or alcohol dependent? If the answer is yes, are you in treatment? Also we ask if you have anything that would work against your improving your life?”

The process then starts with three months of weekly meetings, then transitions to meeting with a community volunteer mentor, called an Ally, for 18 months to encourage and help resolve issues.

Along with the meetings, child care, a weekly dinner and transportation are provided to participants.

The first Fort Scott group of participants are winding down the current 12-week curriculum. Endicott has been a weekly facilitator of this first session in Fort Scott. Five participants started, three will graduate, Hedges said.

During these meetings those in poverty, called Leaders, work to develop a plan to lead themselves out of poverty.

“The biggest obstacle is getting Leaders who want to make a change,” Endicott said. “Some don’t want to work that hard, some don’t have the support to change.”

Weekly Anti-poverty Program meetings

“We start each meeting with a good and new comment,” Endicott said. “What is something good and what is something new that has happened in your life in the last week. Then a class lesson, some listening pairs, group discussion, a class take-away to work on throughout the week. We end with appreciations. Where everyone in the room tells what they appreciate. So we begin and end with a positive.”

Week one lesson was defining poverty.

“How we look at food, that type of thing,” Endicott said.

How food is looked at depends on income level, Tucker said. For those in poverty, quantity is desired; for those of middle income, quality is desired; for those in the upper income level, presentation of food is desired.

Another example is how people look at money, Tucker said.

For those with lower incomes, money is something to spend; with middle incomes, money is to be managed; for those with upper incomes, money is something to be invested.

Week two’s lesson is thriving in life versus surviving. Discussions center on how to move forward and what to leave in the past.

Week three’s lesson is starting to develop a plan to move forward.

Week four’s lesson is building a community for success in moving forward with your plan.

Week five is building strong, positive relationships.

Week six is learning how to make attainable goals.

Week seven is a diversity lesson.

Week eight is succeeding at school or the workplace.

Week nine, developing a plan.

The plan includes a monthly expense goal, a monthly income goal, career and educational goals, determining who will be their Ally, and “how you will become a contributor in the community,” Endicott said.

Week 10, is looking at the big view: affordable housing, childcare and transportation.

Week 11 and 12 are preparing for the future.

After week 12, Allies are assigned to encourage and help solve issues that come up.

Allies meet with Leaders two times a month. Once a month for 18 months, a community speaker will give a presentation to the group on life skills.

For information regarding the next Fort Scott Anti-poverty Program session, call My Father’s House at (620) 223-2212.

For the story on the Fort Scott Tribune click here