Poverty Conference in Longview to focus on multiple community issues

Poverty Conference in Longview to focus on multiple community issues

Poverty Conference in Longview to focus on multiple community issues

By Jimmy Isaac 
Aug. 16, 2017 at 11:35 p.m.

Josh Kolacki fills out forms required to receive food stamps while participating in a poverty simulation during the 2016 Poverty Conference at LeTourneau University. This year's conference will be Tuesday at LETU.

Tickets still are available for Tuesday’s Poverty Conference at LeTourneau University.

Since 2013, the event has raised awareness in Longview about poverty and related issues.

Organizers say it is designed for teachers, community volunteers, nonprofit staff and board members, church leaders and the business community to listen and learn while engaging in relevant discussions about poverty.

Holly Fuller, manager for the city of Longview’s Partners in Prevention group, said the conference hashes through details of more than just poverty while tackling issues such as mental health, crime, homelessness, parenting and family life that poverty can affect.

“There’s a lot of different areas that poverty affects. It’s not just financial reasons,” Fuller said. “We also look at mental resources, physical resources, having a good support system, role models, perseverance, motivation, which those things also impact employment, job skills, even relationships in the community across class lines, parenting skills with your children.”

Educators, licensed counselors and social workers can receive continuing education credits by attending the conference, organizers said.

This is the third consecutive year the Junior League of Longview is sponsoring the annual conference, said league president Melanie Northcutt Crocker.

“Each year, we have grown our event to reach new audiences, this year focusing on our local educators,” she said. “We hope to continue the conversation about the devastating effects of poverty in Longview and especially in our schools, while giving hands-on tactics for our teachers to take back to their classrooms.”

Liz Murray, author of the New York Times best-selling “Breaking Night: A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival and My Journey from Homeless to Harvard,” is the scheduled keynote speaker.

Murray also was the subject of a Lifetime TV movie about her life story titled “Homeless to Harvard,” which was nominated for an Emmy.

She is the recipient of the White House “Project’s Role Model Award” and Oprah Winfrey’s first “Chutzpah Award.”

On Tuesday morning, Murray will present “Homeless to Harvard: An Unlikely Turn of Events” to the Poverty Conference’s general assembly, in which she will share her personal story, address the life-changing intervention of secondary educators and highlight lessons she has learned from her experiences.

After Murray’s address, Carlton Mitchell of LeTourneau University will moderate a community panel discussion.

The panel will include leaders from the Bridges Out of Poverty’s aha! Process, Thrive360, Partners in Prevention, Longview Chamber of Commerce, J-STAAR Ministries, the Boys & Girls Club and Buckner International.

Information and strategies about helping students and families living in poverty also will be presented, according to organizers.

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