18 Sep Junior League leads Poverty Conference
By Dustin Taylor
Sept. 18, 2015 at 4 a.m.
A Longview gathering aims to address causes and solutions to area poverty.
The Poverty Conference, hosted for the first time by the Junior League of Longview, is set Oct. 15 at the Belcher Center at LeTourneau University.
The conference will feature keynote speaker Geoffrey Canada, whose presentation is called “The Crisis Facing Youth: What We Can Do to Save Our Children and Revitalize Our Community.”
Canada is a child advocate, author and director of the Harlem Children’s Zone in New York, which works to help children to rise out of poverty by becoming self-reliant and eventually going to college.
Canada’s presentation is set in the morning Oct. 15 at the Belcher Center. In the afternoon, attendees will move into break-out sessions where small groups will discuss topics related to poverty.
“When it comes to community revitalization and working with poverty, it takes everyone,” said Crista Black, Junior League of Longview executive vice president and conference chairwoman.
When the audience breaks up into groups, the sessions will be geared toward how community members can work toward change.
“If you are working in business, there will be a breakout session for you,” Black said. “If you are an educator, there will be a breakout session for you. We’ll have breakout sessions for them so that we can all better understand what we can do in our role with poverty.
“Anyone can attend any of (the breakout sessions), but we’re really trying to broaden our audience with that, so that anyone who attends (may) be able to attend something and take information away to put into practice.”
John Feezell, a LeTourneau University professor, founded the Poverty Conference, which began in 2013 but was not held this past year.
“We attended (the first) event and were inspired by the event itself and the people of our community coming together,” Black said. So last year, when the event didn’t happen, we reached out to Dr. Feezell to see if there were plans for another Poverty Conference.”
After finding out that there were no plans for another conference, Junior League members asked if Feezell would support their organization hosting the conference as an annual event.
The first conference featured Ruby Payne as the keynote speaker with more than 400 people in attendance.
Tickets cost $45 and are available at belchercenter.com or (903) 233-3080.