Havre Daily News - News you can use

By Tim Leeds 

Havre hears how to bridge people out of poverty

Two days of session heard on strategies to eliminate poverty


August 7, 2014

Eric Seidle

Terie Dreussi-Smith, co-author of "Bridges Out of Poverty," speaks Wednesday at the Havre High School auditorium near the end of a two-day workshop. The training, which was held Tuesday and Wednesday, focused on reducing poverty and was paid for by a Health Resources and Services Administration grant.

A co-author of a book detailing strategies for eliminating poverty told people at the end of a two-day seminar Wednesday that they have to use what they learned.

The key to success, she said, is for people to apply what they have learned in relationships with individuals, in their institutions and in the community.

"Please don't let it die," Terie Dreussi-Smith, co-author of "Bridges Out of Poverty," told about 115 people in the Havre High School auditorium. "The last thing we want is for you to leave and say, 'Oh, that was interesting.'"

Druessi-Smith, author and consultant with aha! Process Inc., wrote "Bridges Out of Poverty: Strategies for Professionals and Communities," with Ruby K. Payne, PhD, and Philip E. DeVol. She presents close to 100 Bridges Out of Poverty lectures each year.

The workshops - all-day seminars aimed at professionals Tuesday and Wednesday and a briefer overview Tuesday night aimed at community members - were paid for through a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration. The grant came out of an examination of issues in early childhood in the area by the Hill County Health Consortium's Early Childhood Investment Team, also paid by HRSA.

People who attended the workshop said the ideas presented could make a major difference.

"I thought it was excellent ... ," Gilberta Belgarde of Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation Human Services Program. "I'm going to take it to my supervisor and see what we could do to use it and expand on it. We are a high-poverty area on the reservation. We ... struggle and any piece of training or help I can offer our people I will, if I can."

Desiree Norden of Bullhook Community Health Center said the training will help at that institution with improving communications strategies "and better understanding where our clientele are coming from."

Norden said she thinks it can be difficult for people who don't come from a background of generational poverty to understand the situation people in that environment deal with.

"(Dreussi-Smith) talked a lot about different rules of different classes and so it helped us understand those differences and different rules that we might have," she said.

In an interview during a break in the workshop, Dreussi-Smith said 32 people attended the shorter presentation Tuesday night, and about 120 people attended the workshop that day. The people attending were a good cross-section of groups including education, youth groups and other community groups and public health and health care providers.

At the end of the session, she congratulated the people who attended the all-day workshops for their work on the topic.

"You were stellar," Dreussi-Smith said. "You shone, and not everybody gets full of this. You really applied it well."

Much of the topics covered included, as Norden referenced, understanding that multi-generational poverty creates different standards and cultures. It is crucial, she said, that people who are trying to help people in poverty don't apply middle-class standards to people who live by different standards.

How people are treated also is a key, she said, talking about "depositing" instead of "withdrawing" from relationships with clients, co-workers and in general in communication, using a financial analogy.

She presented several techniques of effective communications to the group, such as always using a "how-why-what" technique in presenting ideas for change, and always using an "adult" voice - sharing power - rather than a "parent" taking-power or "child" giving-power voice.

A major step in helping people get out of poverty is showing them techniques and strategies in how to get themselves out, Dreussi-Smith said. One issue is that people living in poverty probably never had had the chance - or ability - to plan, living day-to-day or week-to-week reacting to problems, instead.

The people working with people living in poverty need to show them how to plan, act and work to lift themselves up, and the techniques she presented help to do that, Dreussi-Smith told the group. The professionals helping them need to work to build relationships and build resources, she said.

She said a crucial step for success is to ingrain the techniques so that they become automatic - adding in some cases that she is still working on that herself.

The techniques can be used not only with clients, but in personal relationships and in business, including using the techniques to teach front-line workers - as well as everyone else in the organization including management and supervisors - how to effectively deal with people.

She said during the interview that the techniques have been applied outside of the area of poverty - some of the most outspoken proponents are businesses that use the techniques in their own operation.

Michigan-based Cascade Engineering has used the techniques in a welfare-to-work program. Dreussi-Smith said the company saw its worker retention rates go from 20 percent to 80 percent after starting to use Bridges techniques, and sees retention rates in the 60 percents to 70 percents annually.

"It completely surprised us that industry would champion our ideas," she said.

Dreussi-Smith said that a key to helping people move out of poverty is to understand it is not their fault that they are in poverty.

She added that people in communities need to understand that helping eliminate poverty helps everyone in the community, not just the people moving out of poverty - and that increasing poverty rates in a community hurts everyone.

At the end of Wednesday's session, Dreussi-Smith quoted an Australian aborigine, Lilla Watson, saying told a caseworker who came to her home, "If you have come here to help me, you go home. But if you see my struggles as part of your survival, then let's work together."


Reader Comments

ECITmember writes:

The Hill County Early Childhood Investment team is scheduling a follow up phone conference with Terie Drussie-Smith to discuss possible next steps for Hill County. If you are interested in being a part of applying the Bridges concepts in Hill County we would like to invite you be a part of Early Childhood Investment Team meetings. We meet the 1st Wednesday of every month from 11:30 am-1 pm in the Hill County Health Dept conference room.

Kev writes:

apply what you have learned. good advice except we have taught or obama has taught to many people on how to collect a welfare check. Go to school or get a job!


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