This week, Albany was ranked by Daily Finance, a division of AOL, as the nation's fourth poorest community in the nation (Read here). According to the ranking, Albany, the ninth-largest city in Georgia, has an unemployment rate substantially higher than the national average and the fifth highest poverty level (27.7%) in the country.
For those living in poverty, the statistics reflect a grim reality. For others, the numbers are difficult to comprehend. Finding a way to bridge those two realities is the mission of a unique community-centric training program being offered by Strive2Thrive (S2T), Albany's ground-breaking workforce development and community engagement initiative developed by the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce. For what equates to just one work day, professionals and indeed, all concerned citizens in the community can sign up to participate in a "Bridges Out of Poverty" training and life-altering poverty simulation Saturday, Nov. 5th, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Phoebe Northwest Conference Center, 2336 Dawson Road. There is a $35 training fee that includes a continental breakfast, lunch and educational materials.
"The mission of Strive2Thrive is simple," said Ausha Jackson, Program Coordinator. "We help guide families toward self-sufficiency by giving them a hand-up, not a hand out. If we believe a rising tide lifts all boats, then we know 'each one, teach one' has a basis in truth. If we can help just one family change their future, we can change Albany one family at a time."
Jackson said a good portion of the training component next Saturday will include a unique poverty-simulation exercise developed by a national effort founded in 1992 called "Move the Mountain". Those enrolled will learn how to fend for daily necessities using a "virtual" limited budget to purchase everything from day care to medicine to groceries. "The exercise is focused on opening up communication lines between groups of people who otherwise may not have shared experiences," Jackson said.
The LaGrange College Cohort Class PP is geared up to change this community by offering their time, talent and resources to affect positive and dynamic change. This initiative is so important, that they took this event on as their final Capstone project. "The more people we can educate about how the cycle of poverty works and how Strive2Thrive can help alleviate this cycle, the better off Albany and our entire area will become," said class representatives Mary Barwick, Jan Shiver, Sheila Jones and Brad Crittenden. "We've got so many people living right under our noses that just want a chance to become self-sufficient and we have so many talented people that don't know how or where they can share their knowledge about getting ahead in a just getting by world, that our class put our resources together and planned this event."
The Move the Mountain Leadership Center has consulted more than 100 communities nationwide in its mission to stomp out poverty in America. "Albany is the only one of its partner communities to use a business-led organization to implement the curriculum," said Albany Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Catherine Glover. "We have an incredible gift in Albany through this process to make a real difference in the lives of people who need it the most," Glover said. Not to mention, she added, the benefits of the program yield a positive economic return to our region's bottom line: For every $1 dollar spent on S2T, $2 goes back the state in public assistance and $4 goes back into the local economy via shopping and retail due to families rolling onto the tax rolls.
For more information about Strive2Thrive, visit http://www.strive2thrive.org. To learn more about Move the Mountain, visit http://www.movethemountain.org. To register or for more information, contact Courtney Spencer at firstname.lastname@example.org or (229) 317-7175.