0

Strive2Thrive makes progress in fight against poverty

Kimberly Griffin, left, winner of the Strive2Thrive Ally of the Year award, hugs Jeanetta Miles, Jane Willson Family of the Year winner, after Miles told attendees of her impoverished childhood and her positive experiences in Strive2Thrive.

Kimberly Griffin, left, winner of the Strive2Thrive Ally of the Year award, hugs Jeanetta Miles, Jane Willson Family of the Year winner, after Miles told attendees of her impoverished childhood and her positive experiences in Strive2Thrive.

ALBANY, Ga. -- Strive2Thrive, a poverty-fighting arm of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce, was the focus of the Chamber's Rise N Shine Breakfast at the Hilton Garden Inn Wednesday.

Cynthia George, co-founder of the Strive2Thrive initiative, said the purpose of the breakfast meeting was to present to the community and to Chamber members progress of the program and to recognize those who have contributed or made the greatest strides.

Early in her address, George reported that the program was "going like gang busters" with two new programs starting in Columbus and LaGrange. In addition, George said she'd recently received a call from Atlanta, representing "a ton of groups" working together to end poverty there and asking for help to develop their own program."

"We're leading the charge," George said.

George's original founding partner in Strive2Thrive, John Culbreath, took the podium to describe his impoverished youth, raised in a single-parent home. Early on, Culbreath said, he recognized the relationship between education and success. In his adult life, Culbreath has taken it upon himself to try and make a difference.

"I recently decided that I'm a village keeper," Culbreath said. "I'm one of the many people who will do anything possible, give my time and a little bit of treasure to make sure that Albany becomes the real good life city. Part of being a village keeper is to make sure that Strive2Thrive thrives."

According to Culbreath, many people can't get out of poverty because they don't know all the help that may be available to them.

"I've seen a lot of ships launched in Albany over the past 17 years," Culbreath said, "and a lot of those ships are at the bottom of the Flint River. This ship has set on a course for helping eliminate poverty, and with your help that's what we're going to do."

Ausha Jackson, director of Strive2Thrive, said that since 2010 hundreds of families have applied for acceptance in the program for one reason or another, with about 150 of those families given the opportunity to "learn to fish." Jackson said when she was unwilling to accept the 80 percent retention rate of participants in the program, a study was launched to determine how to raise the percentage.

It was discovered, Jackson said, that some of the barriers faced by families fell beyond the scope of "allies" to help. The barriers included drugs and alcohol addiction and mental disabilities. According to Jackson, this year the program staff has been expanded to include a special program coordinator to develop and implement a plan for case management and collaboration of multiple service providers for participants with special needs.

Jackson said that after six months in the program and completion of the 16-week course, "Getting Ahead in a Just Getting-by World," the overall increase in income was 11 percent. After twelve months participation, the increase was 21 percent and spiked to 74 percent after 18 months in the program. Enrollment in various educational programs increased by 86 percent after 18 months involvement, Jackson said.

Jeanette Miles, winner of the Strive2Thrive Jane Willson Family of the Year award, spoke to attendees of the event, saying when she was growing up she wore the same pair of shoes from sixth through ninth grade and was told she would never amount to anything. Thanks to Strive2Thrive, Miles said, she's been able to improve herself and has paid off half her debt.

"Thank you, Jesus," Miles said. "I once needed help and now I have a chance to help someone. I'm glad, and I thank God for this opportunity. There is hope for our community. We can do it one day at time. We need your support."

The Strive2Thrive award for Most Improved was given to Ishmachelle Starling; the Helpful Hands award for volunteers went to Natasha Bridges and Kimberly Griffin received the Ally of the Year award.

A special tribute was made to Ashley Moore, who died this week, for her service as co-chair of Strive2Thrive's income and education program. Moore was also helping to organize a book club. Jackson said the club will be named in her memory.

Comments

billybob 1 year, 7 months ago

How about a class on how saddling your child with a ridiculous name like Ishmachelle or Ausha is not setting that child up for success. I'm serious about this. Someone needs to get the word out to people in the black community that these absurd names put them behind the proverbial 8-ball from birth.

2

missjackson2you 1 year, 7 months ago

I'm sorry, I didn't catch your name... And you are? (That's what I thought!) This is AUSHA JACKSON and I normally don't respond to these often ridiculous and spiteful post, but since you were bold enough to call me out by name, I thought I'd respond to your comment... First of all, my name, Ausha, comes from the historical Indo-Aryan language, Sanskirt, and means "hope" or "life". Therefore, I am VERY proud of the name my parents gave me! Furthermore, I have met many Ausha's over the years of various ethnicities - Black, White, Asian, etc. -- so how dare you try to attack me (or anyone else for that matter), Mr. "BILLYBOB"? Second, I am the Director of a program for the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce. I am well qualified, holding a Master's degree in Management and working on a doctoral degree. Nobody GAVE me anything... I worked my butt off to get where I am! I am a small business owner and a parent of a child I conceived in high school, which caused me to LIVE IN and OVERCOME poverty myself. I am not on any welfare, my son is not on free or reduced lunch, and I am 100% self sufficient. So if that doesn't make me successful, then maybe you need to go back and reevaluate your definition! And for those of you who are so quick to say people in poverty are lazy and will never be anything, I'm just so glad I can look in the mirror and prove you wrong! You all are just as much of the problem as the people commiting the crimes in this community! A good story can't even be published without you putting your crap on here for potential industry leaders and business owners to read. An organization is trying to do something positive and there you go... Always something negative to say! Stop being cowards and hiding behind these masks of anonymity and become a part of the solution instead of the problem!

2

billybob 1 year, 7 months ago

Fantastic. So as a seasoned professional with excellent qualifications what advice would you give to a young mother who was thinking about naming her newborn son Quantavious or Michael? Which name do you think would give him a better head start in life?

1

missjackson2you 1 year, 7 months ago

I am not saying some names are not out there! I actually agree that some of these names are a turn off to employers right away. We actually talk about this in our parenting classes through S2T. What I DO disagree with is your comment about getting the word out to the "black community" about these names, as if they are limited to only the black community. I heard a white woman called a name that is often labeled a "black woman's" name yesterday while at the Hilton, and if you received her resume' I'm sure you would have just tossed it to the side, assuming she was a ghetto black woman. These are the types of stereotypes I'm trying to break. Your opinion is valid, but can we not make this a black/white issue. If truth be told, in many parts of the country the poverty rate is higher among whites; but because blacks are the minority, the concentration is higher among this group. And furthermore, to call someone using their name as an example, whether it's mine or anyone else's, black, white, red or blue, is inappropriate especially when you don't know the historical or sentimental meaning of a name.

0

missjackson2you 1 year, 7 months ago

Finally, if you think my name is "absurb" and I have turned out fairly well, although admittedly, I didn't always make the best decisions, I've lived in poverty, and I have not always been a seasoned professional, then I think it proves that we should not be so judgemental and throw people away. I mean, Condoleeza Rice proabably sounds like a "ghetto, black name" to many people, but even with a name like hers, she still served as the US Secretary of State for the Bush Administration. To tell someone "you'll never make it to that level because of your name, Ausha or Ishmachelle"... Come on?

0

Outtahere 1 year, 7 months ago

There's a difference between an absurd name and a traditionally black name. For example, Latoya is mostly given to a black woman, but it is not "ghetto" (I don't like using this word, we should think of another adjective).

You are right, we should not be so judgmental, but to say that a name doesn't matter is just not true at all. It does matter. And by the way, Condoleeza can be easily sounded out and pronounced and does not contain an apostrophe.

0

Margie 1 year, 7 months ago

Then someone needs to get a word out to the white community and people like billybob that black people name their children just as whie folks name theirs. Furthermore, it won't matter if the black childs name is Marybeth or sue-Ellen, or Gracie Mae, Ellie. Fitzwalker, or Abdul, thir skin pigementation will always lay a part, especially with people with your mind-set. Instead of reading the story and celebrating the success of it, some must speak something negative, which si sad because the story is not about any one naming their child. AND maybe, Ishmachelle, could be name after a granfather, Ishma, and grandmother Michelle, and the two names were combined for one name for the child. If you are not a part of the black community, apparently not, by your racist statement, then you would not know what could be behind a child's name.

2

fatdaddygamer 1 year, 7 months ago

how do blacks come up with those goofy names? wish some one would tell me.

0

southwestga 1 year, 7 months ago

What a tremendous program! Congratulations to all involved.

2

RedEric 1 year, 7 months ago

Pigmentation is an excuse. Just as poverty is an excuse. If a family is on welfare,SNAP,housing,telephones,Medicaid, energy, transportation, FRM, jobs programs, subsidized education, etc., etc., etc. they are NOT in poverty. That family has resources of higher value than I do in retirement. If they grew up without, then the money was used for other than family support. Everyone knows some classes of SNAP can be turned into cash, legally. Why would you want to cash in your food budget except to spend it on something else.

1

Outtahere 1 year, 7 months ago

"According to Culbreath, many people can't get out of poverty because they don't know all the help that may be available to them."

I seriously doubt that. Most of them are very knowledgeable about any and every assistance out there. What most of them don't know is how to have some self worth.

I do think it's good to address those with mental disabilities differently. Some may have even come from dysfunctional homes and suffered abuse and neglect. It's important to help them cope with whatever happened to them so they can move forward with their lives.

We have so many people hurting that really need the help and support from a program like this. All you have to do is go to a very impoverished neighborhood right here in Albany and see how they raise their children. It's sad. You will see small children unsupervised playing in the streets. They put the responsibility on the older children, sometimes 8 or 9, to look after toddlers and babies. They speak so horribly to their children and have no problem cussing them out in front of people. If I had to endure that kind of treatment and neglect as a child, I'm not sure what kind of person I would be today.

0

RedEric 1 year, 7 months ago

Your last paragraph hits the problem. How do you deal with this? Do you take the Progressives attitude that these people are degenerate and have no chance for improvement? Government programs are designed to hold the lower classes in place. Fraud monetarily awards the perp much more than hard work. Notice to race baiters, lower classes are white and black.

1

Outtahere 1 year, 7 months ago

You have to take a progressive approach, compassionately. To be honest, some will never change, even if you help them. Some of them, you will help and they will turn around and stab you in the back. However, some are them are reachable and teachable and just need someone to care about them and their future. They've never had that before; someone who will guide them to self sufficiency.

In these types of programs, what success depends on, is having the "right" person making decisions for the participants. You have to have knowledgable staff that can weed through those that are trying to take advantage and those that need help. Why waste the little resources avaliable on those that could care less?

0

Fletch 1 year, 7 months ago

.... Gimmie a break! ... Poverty is a mental disease .... It has been 48 years since President Johnson began the "war on Poverty" in a State of the Union address on 1/8/64!!! ... It has been a losing battle since the inception. ... Just look at the growing numbers of those put back into poverty by this admin and its policies. ... So, it may be one thing to help out a neighbor/friend in need but, to say we are winning the war on poverty or that we are making progress is comical, at best. ...

0

lostone 1 year, 7 months ago

Miss Ausha, Stop it!!!!! Your just as much in poverty as the rest of us. You get food stamps, You get your rent paid for by the government. You say your 100% self sufficient........ Girl stop trying to be all up and mighty and speak the truth. And the child you had at 14..... So I guess you do know what they are going through.

1

missjackson2you 1 year, 7 months ago

Lostone is a good name for you b/c you ARE lost! Once again, someone with a fictious name who doesn't know what they're talking about! You are right... I did get pregnant at 14 and I do know what they are going through. I will not nor have I EVER been ashamed to tell my testimony! My families know it... And I tell it where I go so people like YOU don't think you have the power to hold my past over my head! But for your information, I haven't had food stamps in over 3 years... I've been in my HOUSE for over 2 years... NO rental assistance sweetheard! Call DFACS and Section 8! I do NOT get childcare or free/reduced lunch... So no I am NOT in poverty and I am 100% self sufficient sweetheart! But so since you are all up in my business and know so much about me, why don't you PROVE what you think you know! I will never apologize for people with a crab-in-the-bucket mentality... always trying to pull somebody down when they see somebody trying to get ahead! If sharing my testimony and giving somebody else a hand up out of poverty makes me so "high and mighty" then oh well! That's your perception and your problem to deal with, not mine!

1

Outtahere 1 year, 7 months ago

Yes, you should share your testimony because it is inspiring - it is a success story! This program hopefully will help others be as successful as you!!

I think a lot of people get stuck on the negative because not many people have the will power you have had to move forward. You are just one of the few that have made it. There are just way too many that never break the cycle.

0

missjackson2you 1 year, 7 months ago

To all my S2T families and friends who may have read these posts, do not worry about what people have to say about you. If you don't do anything with your life, they'll call you lazy and useless. If you try to do something with your life, they'll say "you think you're high and mighty" (like someone just told me). You may have made mistakes in your past, but DO NOT apologize for trying to do something better with your life! Just don't forget where you came from either... People will judge you either way, so let your test be your testimony... Let your haters be your motivators... And just keep on succeeding!

1

Sign in to comment