Longview poverty conference to feature youth advocate, author

Longview poverty conference to feature youth advocate, author

Longview poverty conference to feature youth advocate, author

By Clare McCarthy 
June 29, 2017 at 10:51 p.m.
Liz Murray speaks last year at Longview Regional Medical Center's Stars Over Longview event. She will return to Longview in August to headline the annual poverty conference.

A once-homeless child of drug-addicted parents who eventually attended Harvard University is set to be the keynote speaker at the annual Longview Poverty Conference in August.

Liz Murray is a youth advocate and author who talks about overcoming homelessness.

The conference, again sponsored by the Junior League of Longview, is designed for educators, business and community members to discuss solutions to poverty in East Texas.

“It’s the chance to bring all of the people together who are working on any issue related to poverty, related to housing, gainful employment, etc.,” said Lauren Land, chairwoman of this year’s conference.

“It’s really a time when you’re hearing the same speaker, you’re kind of getting the same insights, so it gives you a good conversation starter,” she said.

The conference is 8 a.m. to noon at the Belcher Center at LeTourneau University. Tickets are $25 and went on sale this week.

“The focus is on volunteers, program members, board members, churches, educators — because the purpose is to talk about what’s going on in the community,” Land said. “It’s kind of enabling that conversation (about poverty) and really that action. And any conversations that can bring some real strategies to life is what we want to see.”

This is the fourth year for the conference and the third year the Junior League has sponsored it.

Land said one big change from past years is more educators will be able to attend.

“We usually have had the conference in October, which has worked out great,” she said. “But the folks who by and large could not attend were our teachers. We would have administrators and counselors from pretty much every district, but we were missing the teachers who are in the classrooms … and they know their students, their families better than almost anybody.”

Land said Longview, Pine Tree and Gladewater ISDs are sending teachers to the conference.

“Our speaker, her story is amazing,” Land said. “And what changed her life around for her was getting back into school and having the intervention of teachers. … So that’s why we thought this was the year to get more teachers.”

The conference will include a community panel and discussion for participants and a book signing.

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