South Central Community Action Executive Director Todd Lare was interviewed last week on the Kids Count Radio Show of the Indiana Youth Institute about the need for programs that truly enable families to get out of poverty.
Lare and Scott Miller, author of Until It’s Gone, a book about ending poverty in America, took part in a long interview relating to the Circles Initiative, a program that provides its participants with the resources, opportunities and a plan to get out of poverty. The program, which SCCAP has offered for about a year, also ultimately aims to eliminate poverty in communities.
Miller said that despite the presence of numerous programs to help the poor with food, shelter, housing, job training and other needs, almost all of those programs are not set up to get individuals and families all the way out of poverty, which he said requires a family income of at least $30,000 or $40,000 in most communities.
“Our programs need to be designed to get people out of poverty,” Miller said. “Then we’ll come up with solutions, not band aids.”
Lare said he saw the need to offer programs like Circles after being hired by SCCAP close to four years ago. He saw the agency administering a series of programs that he was proud to offer to people in poverty, but without enough tying them together to enable permanent changes in the lives of clients.
“I came on and said we’ve either got to live our mission statement or we’ve got to change it,” Lare said. “We’ve either got to provide opportunities, which is what our mission statement says, for people to get out of poverty or we need to be about the mission of helping them be comfortable where they are.
“If the latter is what we chose to do, I’m probably not the guy for the job. And so we’ve really tried to re-focus our efforts on what it takes for families to comprehensively use our benefits to plan their lives and move out of poverty.”
We’ll provide more from this interview in the next couple of days. Also, we’ve got the perfect opportunity for you to hear more about the Circles Initiative this weekend. Circles Coordinator Bonnie Vesely was interviewed this week for a program that will run on B97 FM in Bloomington this Sunday at 6:30 a.m.
On the off chance that you won’t be listening to the radio at that time on Sunday, I’m pledging that after a night of hanging out at the Taste of Bloomington to raise money for the Community Kitchen and Hoosier Hills Food Bank, I’ll get up and record it so we can provide it here.