Monday, June 23, 2014

Hopeful for the future.

This evening I went to Friendship Feast at First Christian Church.  Friendship Feast is a free meal First Christian Church offers to our Claremore neighbors every Monday evening.  While I was there Pastor Charles was talking to a lovely lady that needed help with a utility bill.  While he was talking to her he mentioned the Getting Ahead classes and then introduced me to her.  We had a nice long visit during which she shared with me that she has a bachelor’s degree, a child with developmental disability and $93,000 in student loans and just can’t make ends meet.  She filled out a Getting Ahead class application and is very hopeful for the future.  I’m very hopeful for her future too!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Tammy's story 14 years later

The Center for New American Media Channel filmed an update to Tammy and her family’s life 14 years later.  I believe that Tammy could have had a much more financially secure life with the right connections and a little direction.  As it looks by the end of the film, generational poverty is a way of life for Tammy’s family.  But just think, if Matt attended the Getting Ahead in a Just Getting by World classes how that cycle could be broken.  My hope and prayer is that the Getting Ahead in a Just Getting by World curriculum and Bridges Out of Poverty initiative will help others write a different future story for their lives.

YouTube – Tammy Crabtree Update 2013

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Community Workshop was a success!

It was our pleasure to introduce Rogers County Getting Ahead & Bridges Out of Poverty in an informational workshop today to our community.  The workshop was well attended by 32 Rogers County citizens who are interested in making a difference in our community.  Our guests included Claremore’s Mayor and his wife, Claremore Public School Principals, a representative from Cherokee Nation Tribal Council, church Pastors and parishioners, area bankers, Safenet Services, DHS and many others.   Our local newspaper The Daily Progress was there as well and will have an article about the workshop and community initiative in June 18th paper. 

We once again want to thank those who attended for your time and interest.  Many of our guests showed an interest in participating in various ways.  To you in the community who were not able to attend the workshop we would be happy to speak with you personally and or to any organization you may be a member of that you think would be interested in this community wide initiative.

Rogers County Getting Ahead & Rogers County Bridges Out of Poverty is a community effort.  There are a number of ways citizens may participate.  We need people to sit on the Getting Ahead and Bridges Steering Committees, additional facilitators for the Getting Ahead classes, mentors to the Getting Ahead graduates, employers who will hire our Getting Ahead graduates, referrals of people who could benefit from Getting Ahead curriculum and of course money. 

A Getting Ahead class meets once a week for 16 to 20 weeks with 10 to 15 people in a class.  To facilitate one class of 15 people for the 16 weeks the cost will run about $7,000, which is about $466 per person.  $466 is not a lot of money when you consider your contribution could change the life of a person and their entire family.  That one more family may be off the welfare rolls and the cycle of generational poverty could be completely broken.  Any amount of donation would be greatly appreciated and is tax deductible and you will receive a statement at the end of the year.  All donations to Getting Ahead are keep in a separate dedicated fund account.

Please make check to FUMC and mail to 

First United Methodist Church
1615 N Hwy 88
Claremore Ok  74017

On memo line and include note that donation is for Getting Ahead

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Tammy's Story

I invite you to watch this excerpt from the PBS documentary about a woman named Tammy who has lives in generational poverty.  Please think about these questions while you watch.

YouTube – Tammy’s Story – People Like Us

1.  Tammy has hopes and dreams of a better life, do you think she can succeed while on her current course?
2.  If Tammy had someone in her life as a child or an adult to guide her do you think she could have a different outcome?
3.  Do you think Tammy is lazy or a hard worker?
4.  Do you think something as simple as a working car could give her more time to dedicate towards improving her life and the life of her children?

5. Do you think Tammy’s oldest son’s hopes and dreams can be fulfilled with his attitude and plan for success?  

Monday, June 9, 2014

Applications that impact communities though Getting Ahead

Today was a very productive and informative day.  Laurie Ault, a member of the Getting Ahead Steering Committee and I went to Oklahoma City to participate in the Bridges and Getting Ahead statewide initiative quarterly meeting.  Salvation Army of Oklahoma started this statewide initiative to support Bridges communities and connect resources that are all working towards reducing poverty. 

We learned that the Okla Department of Corrections is working towards offering Getting Ahead to inmates that are close to release.  8,000 inmates are released each year in Okla and most if not all will enter society in poverty.  Chances are poverty is why and how many found their way in to the correctional system in the first place by selling drugs or stealing so getting them off on the right foot with a plan and a mentor after release could make all the difference in some lives. 

We also heard from the AEI (Alliance for Economic Inclusion) which a major nationwide initiative coordinated by the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation).  Don’t you just love acronyms?  Anyway, AEI brings together financial institutions and other partners (Getting Ahead / Bridges) to increase the financial capability of consumers, especially low to moderate income families, to move them into the financial mainstream. 

We heard from the Regional Food Bank of Okla and how they are coordinating efforts in Bridges communities with local food banks. 

The meeting had about 28 people present from all over Okla working towards the same goal of reducing poverty.  It was exciting to hear all the different ideas and ways that Getting Ahead and Bridges are being used in our state. 

If you would like to learn more about the Rogers County Getting Ahead and Bridges Out of Poverty initiative please join me at an informational workshop next Tuesday, June 17 at First United Methodist Church, 1615 N. Highway 88, Claremore.  The workshop will be from 11am to 2pm with a light lunch served.  To RSVP please go to our facebook page Getting Ahead, Rogers County.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Stuffing Envelopes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I haven’t blogged in a few days; we've been busy, busy, busy printing letters and stuffing envelopes.  We are sending out around 800 letters introducing Getting Ahead and Bridges Out of Poverty to our community and informing them of our up coming Getting Ahead and Bridges Out of Poverty Community Informational Workshop on June 17th at First United Methodist Church.   Our mailing list includes Rogers’s county businesses, banks, civic organizations, and churches, Judges, Police and Sheriff Departments and personal friends.  Keep an eye on your mail box you just may have a letter from us.  If you don’t get a letter, you were not looked over on purpose it was just our tongues ran out of lick.  You and anyone you know who is interested in being involved in reducing the cycle of poverty are MORE than welcome. You can sign up on facebook at Getting Ahead, Rogers County or leave me a commit on this blog.

 I’m getting very excited about our workshop, I will be presenting the information and as those of you who know me I am not shy but I am a little anxious about this presentation.  Thoughts keep running through my mind like will there be anybody at the meeting, will there be a lot of people at the meeting, will I make the information interesting….. on and on.  Then I tell myself, God put you here in this work and I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Getting Ahead in a just Getting by World

Getting Ahead in a Just Getting by World is a curriculum that engages people in poverty in groups of 10 or 12 with a facilitator, they investigate together the impact poverty has had on them, their families and their community. 

We discuss how people of different classes perceive and approach life, we call it the hidden rules of class.  Hidden rules touch every aspect of our lives even the most basic parts of our lives, from how we deal with time and money, to how we dress and speak, to how we approach food. It’s important to discuss hidden rules because the world, business, schools, churches and banks operate in the middle class.  If you don’t know how to function in the social arena in which you find yourself you will not have a positive experience.   

We also investigate what kinds of resources a person needs to achieve a stable life; resources such as mental, support systems, education, physical, spiritual, emotional, relationships/role models, financial and knowledge of hidden rules. 

This curriculum is not a quick shot gun approach but a 16 to 20 week process. By the end the graduate will have evaluated their personal situation, assessed their resources and developed a self directed plan to achieve economic stability, they will have complete ownership and responsibility for their success.  Our first Getting Ahead class target date is August 28 of this year.

The final piece to this puzzle is matching up the Getting Ahead graduates with middle and upper class mentors who will encourage and support the graduate throughout their efforts to achieve economic stability.  Moving from poverty to middle class will be a long and difficult journey, there is a much better chance for success with a mentor to encourage, support and guide them. This part of the process is so very important because who among us have ever achieved without the help and support of others. 

The thing I most love about this curriculum is that not only the graduate’s life is forever changed but also the future generations of the graduate, hopefully ending poverty.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

What is Bridges Out of Poverty all about?

So let me tell you briefly about the Bridges Out of Poverty premise.  I do however recommend you read the book Bridges Out of Poverty by Ruby Payne to get a complete understanding of the complexities of poverty in America and through out the world where there are descent economies.  People with limited resources and by that I mean money, education, social contacts, time, actually the list goes on but I will stop with these four., struggle to “move up the ladder” due to living in the tyranny of the moment and particularly for those in generational poverty they never learned how to function with in the middle class. 

What I mean by tyranny of the moment is that if you did not know where your next meal was coming from, or how you were going to get medical attention for your sick child, or how you were going to get to work tomorrow because your car just broke down would you have time to think about going back to school or figuring out how much money you could put into savings this paycheck or where you were going to go on vacation.  People in poverty can only take care of today because tomorrow is too much to handle when today’s needs are not being met. 

What I mean by how to function in the middle class is that each class has a set of hidden rules as it were; ways that society acts that help you be accepted.  These hidden rules span things such how to speak & dress, how you work out problems with people in authority & negotiate and the list goes on. 

Bridges Out of Poverty is a community conversation between business leaders, government leaders, upper, middle and lower classes of the community about the challenges people in poverty have and figuring out solutions that help them build resources enabling them to achieve financial security.   To make that happen, members from all classes must regularly come together at a table and work though that community’s stumbling block.

Tomorrow I’ll tell you about how the Getting Ahead in a Just Getting by World curriculum reaches people in poverty.

Monday, June 2, 2014

In the beginning.........

This is how it all began, sometime mid year of 2013 my Pastor, Charles Ragland, announce at church or mentioned in Sunday school or somewhere that there was a ½ a day workshop about helping people in poverty at First United Methodist Church here in Claremore.  I knew of many organizations and charities that help people with immediate needs but none that help people get out of generational poverty. To say the least, I was intrigued. Pastor Charles and I attend the Bridges Out of Poverty workshop and it all made really good sense to me and so I signed on.  A few months before the workshop I had lost my desk job and decided to start flipping houses for a while, by not having an eight to five job I would be able to put in some real time helping to get this initiative off the ground.  I really feel that God, once again, turned a not so good thing into one of the biggest blessings of my life.