Sometimes the best intentions do not offer permanent success. Regular community efforts such as food pantries, free clothing and utility help, has not proven to permanently help clients to escape poverty.

Through the impetus of Fr. Phil Lawrence, vicar, St. Andrews Episcopal Church, participants from Craig, Delaware, Mayes, and Ottawa counties have been meeting to address these issues with a program called Bridges out of Poverty. The program is a result of years of research and study by Dr. Ruby Payne, Phil DeVol, and Terie Dreussi Smith.

By drawing on their work, new mental models about poverty will be presented. The group wants to partner with individuals, businesses, and organizations to create communities where everyone prospers. Bridges’ flexible models and real-world tools help people from all walks of life come together to make change happen.

A Getting Ahead in a Just Getting Along World class, based on DeVol’s work will begin this September in Grove. This class is offered to individuals who want to develop new mindsets and skills that will allow them to transition from poverty to a more sustainable way of life. Participants will meet on Tuesday evenings from 6:15 to 8:15 p.m. at the Grove Community Center for approximately 20 weeks.

Individuals from the four county area have attended a certification conference to become certified trainers in the Bridges model through grants. The program provides a comprehensive model that addresses poverty at the individual, community, structural and policy levels, and calls for people for people in poverty to be planners and decision makers.

A participant in one of the programs said, “The Bridges course has shown me areas of my life where I have sabotaged obtaining my goals without even realizing it. I have learned so much in these classes that I never learned in high school, college, or 34 years of living. I think this is a class that should be taught to everyone. I learned why certain choices I made affected aspects of my life that I would have never connected.”

Delaware County’s Bridges Out of Poverty will hold informational, public meetings on March 24 at 2 and 6 p.m. at the Grove Community Center at 104 W. Main. Anyone interested in learning more or participating at any level is welcome. For more information call Karen Thomas, Coordinator, at 918-314-3818.