Workshop focuses on understanding poverty

JR Ortega By JR Ortega

Aug. 17, 2012 at 3:17 a.m.
Updated Aug. 18, 2012 at 3:18 a.m.

The drive from Laredo to Victoria may be about four hours, but Dr. Jesse Olivarez would do anything in the name of poverty.

Olivarez, who is chief operating officer of the South Texas Food Bank, joined other organizations at the University of Houston-Victoria on Friday morning to learn from speaker Gary Eagleton about better understanding poverty.

The Bridges Out of Poverty: Strategies for Processionals and Communities workshop focused on increasing awareness of differences in economic cultures and how that, in turn, effects opportunities for success.

"I'm hoping to find new ways and ideas to reach the impoverished," Olivarez said. "Also, how to make coalitions stronger."

The Food Bank of the Golden Crescent, Gulf Bend Center, Cuero school district and the Victoria Area Homeless Coalition may be different organizations, but they have one goal in mind - bridging gaps in poverty.

"When do you get a critical mass of people who are concerned, that's when you start to see change," said Eagleton.

People in the workshop nodded their heads in agreement.

"As long as we keep looking at poverty as a lack of money, we will not be able to change. Mindsets need to change," he said.

Eagleton touched on a variety of issues, from different types of poverty, like situational and generational poverty. His big focus was on building relationships and communicating effectively to reach the impoverished.

Shauna Holder, an adult mental health case manager and mental health first aid instructor with Gulf Bend, said she enjoyed that Eagleton focused on building those relationships.

"I have to deal with a lot of the poverty issues," she said. "Each individual has their own property. We all have our own perception of poverty. We want to help bring them back into the community."



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