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The lens of poverty

Buckner staff poverty training to be better equipped to serve vulnerable families

“If you have come to help me, you can go home again. But if you see my struggles as a part of your own survival, then perhaps we can work together.” – Lilla Watson, Murri artist, activist and academic. 

This quote is shared at the end of the aha! Process' Bridges Out of Poverty training. During the fall of 2023, the Buckner Children and Family Services staff completed the Bridges training: an empowering and strengthening model for families experiencing poverty. The model enables individuals, institutions and communities to stabilize and grow resources for all, particularly those in poverty. 

The training is a part of a larger framework to create a common language and understanding for businesses, schools, social services, health care providers, law enforcement and more to work hand-in-hand with those experiencing poverty.

In programs like Buckner Family Pathways® or through educational or coaching opportunities through Buckner Family Hope Center® programs, families are able to experience empathy, education and encouragement to achieve their goals. However, it is achieved through interpersonal connections and a strengthening model rather than instructing the other on how to achieve their personal goals.

Learning new perspectives on povertyBuilding the Bridge includes mutual beneficial relationships such as strengthening the workforce and building a sustainable community that develop ways for entire communities to thrive. The program shares insight on a variety of resources that provides motivation and drive for personal change in the lives of the families we serve. The goal is to bring people from all types of sectors and economic classes together to empower and support those moving out of poverty.

Joining together to empower and support those facing poverty

It's believed the resources are interconnected and if one is strengthened, it can influence others to strive for more as well, creating opportunities to dismantle situational or generational poverty. Some of these resources include but aren’t limited to: social capital, mental and emotional relationships and role models. 

This approach is unique as we recognized the lens we use when viewing poverty. Each of us carries a different perspective and opinion on the root cause of such hardship.

Throughout the training together, we challenged our stance and considered other factors that impact the lives of families who just need hope, help and an opportunity. But we also found understanding in the harmonious connection and its reflection in the kingdom work God has called us to fulfill. The building of this paradox is threaded in fruitfulness, seeing the Holy Spirit at work in each person’s life, connecting to God in each of us. 

"And don't forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God." – Hebrews 13:16

Finding a new lens of understanding

Working together as a community to overcome povertyAs we observe Poverty Awareness Month, which represents such a large population and even people we may know personally, I challenge you to consider the way you view poverty while weighing the existing resources those individuals have utilized to survive.

Is it through the lens of policy, individual, institution or community? Continue to promote opportunities to strengthen the resources you can offer. We can also take the time to build a common understanding and language of poverty and consider viewing disparities through a different lens. 

“An important structural component of the common language is our understanding of the causes of poverty.” – aha! Process

Written by Keri Pettis, MPA-CNM, director of compliance and strategic initiatives for Buckner Children and Family Services.

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