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Longview program to combat poverty takes a long-term approach

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An 18-week program that helps people climb out of poverty begins Tuesday in Longview. The class, “Getting Ahead in a Just Gettin’ By World,” is offered through the city’s Partners in Prevention program. According to program manager Holly Fuller, it doesn’t take a cookie cutter approach to life changes.

“It’s more about really evaluating one’s life, circumstances, situations and resources, and then developing a plan as to how that person might want it to look in the future. It's about building a future story," Fuller said.

The group will learn about the hidden rules of the middle class. Fuller sets out this example: A person living in poverty may look at food from the view of is there enough? But, someone in the middle class will judge it by how it tastes and what restaurants they want to try. Someone in the upper class would judge food by its presentation and quality.

“If you understand how the world works, and how different people see different things, then you can become what we call bilingual," Fuller said. "Even though you may be living in poverty, you understand the rules of middle class, which will typically be what a business and school run on."

The goal for the 10 enrollees is to boost their salaries to 200 percent of the federal poverty level. For a family of four, that’s about $47,000. Partners in Prevention has offered this class since 2008. Fuller says about three-quarters finish the program. It begins tomorrow at 6 p.m. in Longview, with childcare and a meal provided.

Chuck Smith brings more than 30 years' broadcast and media experience to Red River Radio. He began his career as a radio news reporter and transitioned to television journalism and newsmagazine production. Chuck studied mass communications at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia and motion picture / television production at the University of California at Los Angeles. He has also taught writing for television at York Technical College in Rock Hill, South Carolina and video / film production at Centenary College of Louisiana, Shreveport.