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Bridges Out of Poverty helps residents get ahead

Cary Ashby • Aug 24, 2018 at 7:00 PM

Whether poverty is a situational or generational experience, the Huron County Bridges Out of Poverty task force is attempting to do its part to help people improve their lives.

Those people experiencing poverty can take steps by acquiring the proper mindset and taking a critical look at their lives, said Taylor Russo, who coordinates programs for Bridges Out of Poverty and Norwalk Area United Fund.

The next “Getting Ahead Experience” starts Sept. 11, which will help “clients become more stable and self-sufficient,” according to the promotional material. It meets twice a week for a 2 1/2-hour session and runs for 14 weeks. Day care and a meal will be provided. There is no cost for the participants. For more information, call 419-668-0269.

There have been two “Getting Ahead Experience” graduate classes. Amy Little, a Bridges Out of Poverty task force member and Norwalk Area United Fund board member, said the sessions are for people who “are sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

“It’s a very big commitment,” she added.

Linda Bersche, executive director of the local United Fund, said the “Getting Ahead Experience” sessions should help people who are “tired of being in crisis all the time” and “help them see they’re not helpless.”

People experiencing poverty often don’t know how to find resources to be financially independent, how to save money or where to turn to for help, she added.

“It’s so overwhelming, (they think), ‘I’m going to give up before I get started,’” Bersche said.

Little and Bersche said such residents often “barter for services” and spend a lot of their lives on “agency time” — such as going to food banks — and are so busy doing that they don’t have time to find work. An example of bartering for services is fixing someone’s car in exchange for babysitting.

“Bartering is a huge way to get what you need,” said Little, pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Monroeville.

Ultimately, the goal of the “Getting Ahead Experience” sessions is helping people find the proper resources so they can help themselves.

For more information about Bridges Out of Poverty, go to www.norwalkunitedfund.org/bridges-out-of-poverty.

Also, the Norwalk Area United Fund is having two Bridges Out of Poverty training sessions. Geared toward professionals and volunteers, they will be Oct. 18 and 19 in Tiffin. More information will be forthcoming.

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