North Country Inspiration: bridges out of poverty

Published: Aug. 7, 2023 at 7:07 AM EDT
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GLENFIELD, New York (WWNY) - For our North Country Inspiration this week, we travel to Lewis County.

The Lewis County chapter of Bridges out of Poverty has just graduated another class from its Getting Ahead program. It’s for people experiencing poverty to get resources, connections, and education that creates stability.

“At Bridges out of Poverty, we define poverty as the extent to which a person does without resources. Money and finances are part of that, but there are more that go into that. Emotional stability, the ability to learn, work around your environment,” said Stephanie Houser Fouse, Bridges out of Poverty Getting Ahead Facilitator.

The program meets weekly to talk about different ways poverty affects us, and ways to better themselves using that knowledge.

“It’s not a cookie cutter program,” said Karen Carr, Bridges Out of Poverty trainer.

“We don’t tell people how to do things, we offer information.”

The program has trained around 250 people so far, and graduated six different groups. Veda Cottun was in the most recent graduating class.

“I moved here six years ago and I don’t have a lot of family or close ties to people who could help me financially or emotionally for that matter,” Cottun said.

“Poverty is honestly just being in a spot where you’re kinda stuck and need some support, and this class really does that, if you give it the chance.”

To help get people into the classes, the program offers transportation, childcare, group dinners, reimbursement for time off or gas, and more.

“There’s so much support out there, this being a close knit community it sometimes can feel lke no one understands but there’s always someone who understands and this class really becomes like a family,” Cottun said.

The program is offering a training session for those wishing to help August 9 and 10 at the Howard G Sackett BOCES in Glenfield, and there is another Getting Ahead group starting up in two weeks.