The Sal­va­tion Army plans poverty-class grad­u­a­tion

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - RIVER VALLEY & OZARK EDITION - BY TAMMY KEITH Se­nior Writer Of Poverty Bridges Out Bridges Out of Poverty: Strate­gies for Pro­fes­sion­als and Com­mu­ni­ties, Se­nior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or [email protected]­line.com.

CON­WAY — Jay Burn­ham said he’s learned skills in a class of­fered by The Sal­va­tion Army in Con­way that will help him get out of poverty and stay there.

The in­au­gu­ral class, Get­ting Ahead in a Just-Get­tin’ -By World, is be­ing taught by Capt. Pa­tr­ishia Knott, corps of­fi­cer at The Sal­va­tion Army in Con­way. The class started in Oc­to­ber, and a grad­u­a­tion is sched­uled for 6:30 p.m. Feb. 25 at the church, 950 Car­son Cove in Con­way.

“It’s un­der the

um­brella,” Knott said. She taught a class at The Sal­va­tion Army in Ok­la­homa based on the book by Ruby K. Payne, Philip E. DeVol and Terie Dreussi Smith.

“To come up with real so­lu­tions for poverty, it needs ev­ery­one to come to the ta­ble — some­body in poverty, some­body in the mid­dle class, some­one in wealth. You need pol­icy-mak­ers, those run­ning so­cial ser­vices and those who are go­ing to be im­pacted,” Knott said.

“It’s one of those things — to me, it’s been the miss­ing puz­zle piece of so­cial ser­vices,” Knott said of help­ing peo­ple get out of poverty.

“We spend the first 10 weeks just look­ing at poverty … what some of the causes are … what keeps us in poverty … and shift to in­di­vid­u­als look­ing at their per­sonal sit­u­a­tions,” she said.

Knott said most peo­ple think, “If I just made more money,” it would solve ev­ery­thing.

“It might not just be mak­ing more money; maybe they are lack­ing in ed­u­ca­tion or train­ing,” she said. “They may ac­tu­ally be lack­ing in the skill set needed.”

One woman in the class had a col­lege de­gree, but her health failed.

“She re­al­ized she couldn’t walk the length of the build­ing with­out hav­ing to sit down,” Knott said. “She said, ‘How can I hold a job, much less do any­thing else?’”

Burn­ham has a bach­e­lor’s de­gree in so­ci­ol­ogy with a

mi­nor in ad­dic­tion stud­ies from the Univer­sity of Cen­tral Arkansas in Con­way, where he lives.

De­spite that, he is strug­gling fi­nan­cially and de­cided to take the class.

“Ba­si­cally, I needed help get­ting my life to­gether, and this class is teach­ing me some skills that are go­ing to help me get out of poverty and stay out of poverty,” he said.

Knott said Burn­ham is not the first ed­u­cated per­son she’s seen who lives in poverty.

“That’s one of the things about this class that has sur­prised me. We tend to think of those in or near poverty as those who are il­lit­er­ate,” she said. “Most of the time they are ed­u­cated. It’s just life ex­pe­ri­ences.”

Burn­ham said the class has helped him with sev­eral skills.

“I’ve learned ways to mo­ti­vate my­self to do bet­ter, what it takes to get out of poverty and stay out, skills like deal­ing with agen­cies that you have to deal with when you’re in poverty and stuff like that,” he said.

He said he is mo­ti­vat­ing him­self by set­ting goals, “and find­ing out what I re­ally want and be­ing able to take steps to achieve those goals.”

First, he needs to save money to get his driver’s li­cense so he can get a bet­ter-pay­ing job in­stead of tem­po­rary, low­pay­ing jobs. He rang a bell for The Sal­va­tion Army dur­ing the

Christ­mas sea­son, for ex­am­ple.

“You do what you have to do,” he said. “I have de­grees, but in or­der to work with those de­grees, it seems like you have to have a driver’s li­cense for all those jobs. I’m sav­ing for that.”

Burn­ham said he had a wreck and ended up los­ing his driver’s li­cense as a re­sult.

Knott said the class helps stu­dents learn to fo­cus on what they need to ad­dress first.

“Look at where are you low­est, and what do you need to build on?” she said.

Also, Knott said, many peo­ple need “so­cial cap­i­tal.”

“They don’t know who to call or who can an­swer their ques­tions,” she said, so that is­sue is ad­dressed in the class.

“So when your car breaks down, you know what me­chanic to call,” Knott said. “When you have le­gal is­sues, you know that process of how to get in touch with a lawyer.”

Knott said that although her par­ents and oth­ers’ taught them these com­mon-sense skills, not ev­ery­one was for­tu­nate enough to have par­ents like that.

The class started with 11 mem­bers; now there are nine.

“One lady had a panic at­tack the first night; she wasn’t ready,” Knott said. “One of the kids, I didn’t think he was ready, but he begged me to give him a chance. He came the first week and did great, but he never came back. In his

liv­ing con­di­tion, he didn’t have that sup­port.”

Deb­bie Hen­drix, so­cial ser­vices di­rec­tor at The Sal­va­tion Army Con­way Corps, said she learned bet­ter com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills through the class.

Knott asked Hen­drix to par­tic­i­pate on be­half of the Con­way Corps.

“We’re ex­cited,” Knott said. “We try to have some kind of agency per­son in the class be­cause they get a whole new view of a per­son com­ing in [to the of­fice] in poverty sit­ting across the desk, where they’re com­ing from. It helps you nav­i­gate dif­fer­ently.”

Hen­drix said it was a worth­while class.

“I think the big­gest thing I learned is how to use lan­guage be­cause com­mu­ni­ca­tions skills are my weak­est area,” she said. “I’m a hands-on per­son. I learned how to think about my lan­guage be­fore I speak. With my clients, I can talk all day long — it’s mid­dle class and wealthy that I have trou­ble with. I’m learn­ing how to be per­sua­sive in dif­fer­ent ar­eas.”

Knott said a pos­i­tive aspect of the pro­gram is that the stu­dents will con­tinue to re­ceive sup­port be­cause suc­cess­ful peo­ple have “that cheer­leader” for them.

“We’ll have some­one touch­ing base on their goals,” she said. “That’s my next step, try­ing to con­nect peo­ple to­gether. Un­til I get that, I’ll meet with them once a month to see how ev­ery­body’s do­ing on their goals. … We call that stay­ing ahead.”

Burn­ham said the class has made a dif­fer­ence in his life.

“It’s help­ing me find a path­way for­ward,” he said.

TAMMY KEITH/RIVER VAL­LEY & OZARK EDI­TION

Capt. Pa­tr­ishia Knott of The Sal­va­tion Army Con­way Corps started a class ti­tled Get­ting Ahead in a Just-Get­tin’-By World on Oct. 1. The class, on how to get out of poverty, is based on the book Bridges Out of Poverty. The nine stu­dents will grad­u­ate Feb. 25 and have fol­low-up meet­ings to make sure they are meet­ing their goals, Knott said.

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