Local program helps to address poverty

Local program helps to address poverty

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Graduates of the Getting Ahead program in Watertown know what it's like to live in poverty. They're using their experience to give a voice to those in need.

In 2017, Tim Fayette was looking for a way to get out of poverty.

He found it in the Getting Ahead program.

"Getting Ahead opened my eyes to a lot of different opportunities out there. There's a lot of different help in the community, I was able to get a lot of support. So, now I have a big support network for just about any area of my life," he said.

Getting Ahead is a nationwide program that helps people examine the poverty in their life and work on ways to make changes.

And in Watertown, some of the graduates are supporting themselves and the community with a grassroots group called Staying Ahead.

"They're considering the resources in their lives that they would like to build on, work on building. And then, matching up projects and speakers and learning opportunities to help them grow those resources," said Watertown Urban Mission Executive Director Dawn Cole.

One of the projects they've taken on is a survey that looked at the lives of poor people in the city.

The Urban Mission held a celebration of the survey's completion Thursday night.

Fayette says the results will allow people in poverty to share the problems they face and give organizations a better idea of what to focus on.

"It's allowing the people who sometimes feel they don't have a voice, be able to have a voice. Even though it was through a survey, it's going to allow people to identify and say, 'Hey, this is what's going on in my neighborhood.' Or sometimes, 'This is what my neighborhood feels like's going on,'" he said.

The members of Staying Ahead came up with the questions on the survey and found the people to take it.

Fayette says more than 600 surveys were completed.

It was made possible by $125,000 State Opioid Response Grant awarded to the Alliance for Better Communities.

Project Director Anita Seefried-Brown says the firsthand experience the graduates have living in poverty was the reason the survey was so successful.

"They were able to instantly create a rapport with the survey respondents. And, they were able to get information that we wouldn't have been able to get any other way," she said.

People who helped put the survey together say results could be expected as early as January of 2020.

Copyright 2019 WWNY. All rights reserved.