Bridges Out of Poverty - Capital Area Food Bank
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Bridges Out of Poverty

By Jenny Shea September 15, 2010

How can I best serve people in need?

I ask myself this question every time I talk to a client looking for food assistance on the food bank’s Hunger Lifeline.  I ponder the question as I’m planning one of the three direct food distributions the CAFB coordinates in D.C., Maryland and Virginia.  And I think about it every time there is an opportunity to partner with another organization to deliver resources to people living in poverty or who are facing temporary financial hardship.

Over my two years at the food bank, I have formed an answer to this question through my own experience and the expertise of my co-workers.  But it is a question I’m never done asking and there is always more to learn.

Bridges Out of Poverty, a two-part series based on the book of the same name by Dr. Ruby K. Payne and her colleagues, offers time-tested, research-based steps to serving people in need in a way that empowers individuals and strengthens communities. 

Part one of the training, featured at the food bank’s 2009 Northern Virginia Hunger Summit and 2010 Metropolitan Area Hunger Conference, helped me understand how the learned behaviors of people living in poverty influence their daily decisions.  I saw how people living in poverty excel at making minute-by-minute decisions to gain access to basic necessities, and that this skill influences how a person in that situation views time. 

The next time I take a call from the Hunger Lifeline at 4:59 PM, instead of thinking “why did they wait until now to call,” I’ll rethink my reaction to consider the numerous other resources they had to work for that day.  This is just one way the Bridges Out of Poverty presentation has influenced the way I interact with clients.

Lucky for me, the food bank will feature the second day of the training at the upcoming Northern Virginia Hunger Summit on Friday, September 24, 2010.  Part two will take the information I learned one step further, with specific steps of how I can work with clients in a way that best serves their needs.  Along with the other participants at the Summit, I’ll learn the skills needed to work with people in need, best practices for me and my organization to adopt, and the best way to work with other people and agencies to deliver services. 

If you work with a feeding program or other social service provider, or if you are interested in learning about the dynamics of poverty from an economic and social perspective, the 2010 NOVA Hunger Summit is for you.  The event is free and open to the public and lunch is provided.  Click here to learn more and to register for the summit.