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STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI)-A Starkville non-profit group is taking a unique approach to helping people grow themselves out of poverty. Its through The Starkville Bridges Out Of Poverty and its Getting Ahead Program. With its third graduation in two years, Bridges Out of Poverty Director Rev. Lynn Phillip-Gaines reflects on her successful career helping clients learn skills about the road to a better life.

“And I’ve noticed that the kinds of resources that they can get to teach them how to make wise decisions are not available to people that come from poverty,” said Lynn Phillips-Gaines, Program Director.

“I was asked first of all to be one of the volunteers and then I just decided I want to be in the program and be a part of it. And then that way I can learn for myself, things to better me,” said Rose Coffey-Graham, Program Graduate.

“They are helping us understand what it is to be in their shoes. They are co-investigators,” said Phillips-Gaines.

In two years, 42 low- and lower middle-income people have completed the 16-week course which involves meeting for 2 and half hours a week on everything from life skills and proper financial management. Some of the graduates have gone on to jobs. Others have returned to help teach others.

“I started to realize that simply giving people money or talking to them telling them what to do wasn’t what was going to accomplish anything,” said Phillip-Gaines.

And the program includes the entire family, offering children their own lessons in crossing economic and social bridges.

“And many of them, they open up about their situations. Its not all fluff, its not all you know good times and happiness, because they live through real life situations,” said Stedmon Ware, Bridges For Kids.

“If you can’t do anything for yourself you surely can’t help anybody else,” said Coffey-Graham.


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