Having an "aha" moment - Capital Area Food Bank
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Having an "aha" moment

By Jenny Shea May 25, 2010

When it comes to time, people in poverty value the present.  People in the middle class focus on the future, while the upper class is most concerned with the past, such as long-standing traditions and legacies.  How do these values influence the way members of each class spend their time?
This was just one of the questions that caused me and the other participants at the annual Metropolitan Area Hunger Conference to examine how the people we serve operate.  The event was hosted by the Capital Area Food Bank on April 30 at Allen Chapel AME Church in DC.
The conference featured guest speaker Gary Eagleton from Aha! Process, Inc. presenting the Bridges Out of Poverty program.  Mr. Eagleton focused on how individuals are influenced by their socioeconomic class, the hidden rules that we all follow, and how to interact with the people in the lowest class to better serve their needs and empower them to break out of the cycle of poverty.

A participant begins an exercise in understanding the hidden rules of class.

While I am not a fan of labeling/stereotyping people or putting them into a rigid box, I learned at the conference that there are characteristics of people living in each socioeconomic class.  By understanding these characteristics, I’m better able to appreciate the outlooks of people in poverty, which helps me to address their needs in a more sensitive, compassionate way.
The Metropolitan Area Hunger Conference is one of two day-long training sessions the Agency Relations Department hosts each year.  Next up is the Northern Virginia Hunger Summit scheduled for Friday, September 24, 2010.  At this event, Bridges Out of Poverty will be back with the second day of training.  That program will outline strategies for serving people in poverty, giving agencies, volunteers and food bank staff like me concrete steps to be better service providers and more enlightened community members.
Participants listen to Gary Eagleton present part one of "Bridges Out of Poverty."