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The Shawnee News-Star
  • Poverty initiative graduates locals

  • The pilot class of a 20-week educational program designed for local citizens battling poverty is taking its knowledge and resources into the community.
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  • The pilot class of a 20-week educational program designed for local citizens battling poverty is taking its knowledge and resources into the community.
    The Salvation Army and the Neighboring 101 steering committee, in association with the Bridges Out of Poverty initiative, launched “Getting Ahead in a Just Gettin’-by World” to address poverty on the individual level. The Salvation Army’s Capt. Philip Canning invites the community to attend the Aug. 28 celebration for the program’s first graduates.
    “Those in attendance will hear stories from a couple of the graduates about how this class enabled them to be removed from government assistance, find a job, motivated them to work for the betterment of others in their situation and have e-mail conversation with an MIT professor,” he detailed.
    In addition to investigating their lives and futures, program participants contributed to the community.
    “They helped create a limited assessment of available resources,” Canning said, adding class feedback lead to a change in the organization’s homeless shelter policies.
    Canning said the event is also intended to spread the good word of what is happening in the fight against poverty.
    “It becomes a community-wide approach,” he said of reducing barriers and increasing opportunities for all.
    The event, which includes a dinner, will have graduates’ work displayed. Seven of the 10 original program enrollees will walk the stage.
    “We have a 70 percent completion rate,” Canning noted. “Based on similar programs, that’s average.”
    Canning said the organization plans to conduct an evaluation of the program, which is likely to return in January. He is optimistic participant numbers will increase.
    “When you give those people in poverty a voice, it does something in them. It gives them hope,” he said. “I think that’s what most people need.”
    The celebration will be held at First Baptist Church in Shawnee at 6:30 p.m. To cover the cost of food, tickets are $10. To purchase tickets or learn more information, call 405-275-2243.

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