Program seeks to understand, eliminate poverty

Mississippi State faculty, staff and students are invited to participate in an Aug. 9 workshop to help eliminate poverty in Starkville and Oktibbeha County.

The workshop, part of Starkville Bridges Out of Poverty, includes a national speaker who will teach middle-class participants causes for poverty and community solutions to eliminate it in the area.

Starkville Bridges Out of Poverty is a local initiative based on national experts who have succeeded in using the program to decrease poverty in areas throughout the country. The workshop begins at 8:30 a.m. at the Sportsplex in Starkville and ends at 3:30. Registration costs $50 before Aug. 4 and $60 afterward, although scholarships are available.

Meggan Franks, program coordinator for MSU's Maroon Volunteer Center, said the center has partnered with Volunteer Starkville to help recruit community volunteers for the program.

"This event is open to anyone interested in being educated about poverty, to help us understand those in poverty and the way they think," Franks said. "We cannot help those in poverty if we do not understand where they come from."

The workshop and program focuses on bridging divides that happen along socio-economic lines. Workshop leader, speaker and consultant Joni Pfarr of Minneapolis, Minn., has extensive experience in not-for-profit organizations, including work Catholic Charities and the Salvation Army.

Lynn Phillips-Gaines, a MSU alumnae and financial planner who organized Starkville Bridges Out of Poverty, said what makes this program different from other programs aimed at helping people in poverty is this works to empower people living in poverty while also educating people in the middle class to see the world from the perspective of poverty.

"Until you see what it's like to live in their world, you can't understand," Phillips-Gaines said.

"This is yet another service opportunity for Mississippi State faculty, staff and students to join with others in the community to find ways to help those in need," MSU President Dr. Mark Keenum said.

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Robbie Ward | University Relations

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