Volunteers Hope To Help Tackle Local Poverty - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Volunteers Hope To Help Tackle Local Poverty

Barbara Lemcool, Poverty Bridge Barbara Lemcool, Poverty Bridge

Elise Preston
NewsChannel 10

AMARILLO, TX - This area has one of the highest poverty rates per capita in the state of Texas.  Local organization, Panhandle 20/20  is launching a new program to help Amarillo residents pull themselves out of poverty. The people are not doing it alone, they're paired with other Amarillo residents to help them.

Panhandle 20/20 members tell NewsChannel 10, Amarillo may be in an economic recession bubble, but the city is not poverty proof. One in four people in Potter county live in poverty, meaning, they can not meet their basic needs. A majority of those in poverty in Amarillo are in what's defined as, working class poverty. Thursday afternoon, volunteers, or navigators as they are called, were trained on how to effectively help.

"It's easy for us to look at our neighbors and say you have this program, you should be doing that'.  Until you have one person who is willing to take you through the resources and processes necessary, to get you out of poverty, those programs won't work.  It takes that personal relationship and that's what this program is doing." said Panhandle 20/20 president, Russell Lowery-Hart.

The system was developed by national organization, Poverty Bridge. It has been used by dozens of cities across the United States. According to program coordinators, the volunteer response in Amarillo is a sign the program could make a huge change in the city's poverty numbers.

"Amarillo has made a huge investment. I don't mean a money investment, I mean a commitment of time and talent investment by people in your community who truly care and want to help those below the poverty level," said Barbara Lemcool.

According to Lemcool, anyone interested can become a navigator.

In many of the cities, those who were at one time in the program receiving help, are now navigators for someone else.

There are 140 people registered to receive help, and 120 people signed up to give it. They'll pair up Saturday at the Central Church of Christ on South Monroe.

Anyone interested in joining the program can visit Panhandle 20/20's web site.

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