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Circles of Troup County asks for input on poverty issues

Contributed report

Past-up sheets at Circles of Troup County show 12 issues that keep people in poverty, which attendees came up with during community meetings two years ago. Circles will host open community meetings Thursday and Sept. 24 to again discuss systemic barriers that keep people in poverty. The organization will choose one issue identified in the upcoming meetings to address in the future.

http://lagrangenews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/37/2015/09/web1_WEB0908Circles.jpgPast-up sheets at Circles of Troup County show 12 issues that keep people in poverty, which attendees came up with during community meetings two years ago. Circles will host open community meetings Thursday and Sept. 24 to again discuss systemic barriers that keep people in poverty. The organization will choose one issue identified in the upcoming meetings to address in the future.

Submitted

LaGRANGE — Circles of Troup County will host two open community meetings to discuss local systemic barriers that keep people in poverty.

“While we work with individual families to help them develop skills and knowledge to move to self-sufficiency, we also realize that there are systemic barriers that keep people from moving ahead. As an anti-poverty organization, we work to address these issues,” said Sherri Brown, director of Circles of Troup County.

The sessions are open to community members as well as Circles participants and volunteers. It’s that mix of people that creates the strongest understanding of the issues, Brown said.

“We need to hear from both sides of the table – those who have the power to change things and those who understand the issues because they face them,” she said.

During its first set of meetings two years ago, the group spent three sessions identifying more than a dozen major issues including transportation, education, affordable housing, health care, childcare for rotating shifts and more.

After identifying the issues, the group chose to tackle the issue of job accessibility for ex-felons.

“We know so many who struggle with wanting a job and being qualified for a job, but not being able to apply because of a felony in the past. We wanted to advocate for qualified applicants to be able to speak to their past with a potential employer instead of being banned from an application,” Brown said.

The group worked to identify local organizations open to hiring people with a felony in their backgrounds. They also wrote letters to state legislators and met with Sen. Josh McKoon to discuss new state legislation addressing felony status and state jobs, which was passed earlier this year.

“We’ve had a lot of success with that issue and we’re ready to choose another issue to address. These community meetings are the first step to doing that,” Brown said.

The meetings will include small group discussion about the issues.

“We have a lot of fun and get to know new people. The process is always exciting for our group. So often our participants feel frustrated and powerless. It’s great when we realize we can be part of the solution to some of the big problems,” Brown said.

The meetings open to the public will be 6:15–7:45 p.m. Thursday and Sept. 24 at Troup Baptist Association, 1301 Washington St.

For information, contact Sherri Brown at sbrown@troupco.org or at 706-883-1687.

From a press release submitted by Circles of Troup County.