Blog Page

  • Muskogee Car Donation Program Helps Address Transportation Problem (9/21/2017) - Graduates of Getting Ahead often tell us that transportation is their No. 1 barrier to success. To help overcome that barrier, my organization, Muskogee (Okla.) Bridges Out of Poverty, launched a new Car Donation Program that provides Getting Ahead graduates who meet certain criteria with the opportunity to purchase a vehicle. Recently we awarded our first vehicle in the new program. The automobile was donated by a generous family who no longer needed a vehicle and who wanted to help another family out, and we hope this is the first of many such donations. Muskogee Bridges negotiated with a local lender to provide the graduate with financing for the vehicle and a local insurance is also providing help. The purchase price is about one-quarter of the actual value of the vehicle. This serves the dual purpose of providing needed transportation and helping the recipient to build credit. Vehicles are inspected by a mechanic, and small repairs are made prior to the sale if necessary. The proceeds from the vehicle sale go back into the Car Donation Program to keep the process working. The program is intended for Getting Ahead graduates who have completed Money Matters 101, a curriculum developed by St. Joseph County (Ind.) Bridges Out of Poverty; and Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. Individuals who meet the criteria are well-positioned to take advantage of this life-changing opportunity and continue working on their future story. There is also an application process and a committee decides upon the successful applicant. About our organization:  Muskogee Bridges Out of Poverty, a member of Emerge Solutions, is funded by the City of Muskogee Foundation and was recognized last year as the national Bridges Community of the Year by aha! Process Inc., developer of Bridges Out of Poverty and Getting Ahead, for its innovative ideas and successful programs. It also recently was honored for its accomplishments in guiding Getting Ahead graduates to self-sufficiency by the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits. For more information, contact me at tmckenzie@nbn-nrc.org.
  • Transforming Communities through Innovation and Collaboration: Transform Tuesdays Webinar Series (12/22/2016) - Once a month in the fall of 2016, Emerge Solutions member Simon Solutions (creators of CharityTracker and Oasis Insight) hosted a FREE webinar, bringing even greater community transformation through innovation and collaboration. They have shared their recordings with all Emerge Solutions members.
  • Bridges Out of Poverty: Addressing Community Challenges Through Intentional Relationships (8/16/2016) - There is no doubt that these are difficult days in our country. Communities large and small struggle with brokenness in relationships across race, ethnicity, language, economics and other divisive categories. Conflicts and suspicions seem to lead inevitably to violence. Many of us wait with suspended breath for the next terrible story to break in the media, which for its part is ever-ready to pounce on yet another sensational example of how wrong things are. 
  • Program helps inmates reinvent lives – The Blade (7/13/2016) - STRYKER, Ohio — Elmer Yeary went into the Corrections Center of Northwest Ohio in February without a plan on what changes he could make to turn his life around. He thought he would finish out a six-month sentence for theft and then relocate to east Tennessee, where he could work on his father’s cattle farm. Instead, Yeary, 38, who was among inmates in pilot classes at CCNO called Getting Ahead While Getting Out, which is part of the larger  program, is working on getting his life back on track. Since his release from jail about a month ago, he has been attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and volunteering at a local re-entry program for ex-offenders. He is talking about earning a college degree for a career in drug counseling. “My life was a mess,” he said. “Now, I am working on Source: Program helps inmates reinvent lives – The Blade
  • Servant Leadership (5/10/2016) - Servant leadership is a philosophy and set of practices that enriches the lives of individuals, builds better organizations and ultimately creates a more just and caring world.  
  • Got Questions? Emerge Members Are Anxious to Share Experiences. (4/28/2016) - As communities across the globe begin to realize that something can actually be done to address poverty, they also begin to realize how complex the issues are. The experiences of individuals and families from under-resourced backgrounds begin to tell a story of barriers that may have existed for many years. For community leaders the task can seem overwhelming. Where do I concentrate my efforts? What areas will net the greatest returns? How do I get everyone involved? The list of questions can go on forever.
  • People in Poverty Need More than a Job (4/17/2016) - If you are never given an opportunity how can you be responsible for wasting it?  So many times we hear people around us state that a job would correct and solve every problem a person who is in poverty faces.  The problems go much deeper than getting and keeping employment.  Skills and education are two primary areas that many people lack through no fault of their own.  Are we being fair to simply give people food and materials as opposed to teaching and empowering individuals to acquire what they need through knowledge and goal achievements?
  • Social Entrepreneur Starts Running Club to Combat Homelessness (3/28/2016) - Who would think that a group of homeless men could become excited about running? That they could commit to a regular schedule of running—and keep it?
  • Poverty is a context, not an excuse (2/20/2016) - The new school year has arrived and with it the opportunity for me to do a number of presentations to various school districts and other organizations on the subject of dealing with kids from poverty. In my first week of school, I had the privilege of speaking to school bus drivers, city bus drivers, the K-12 faculty of one of the rural districts I serve and the small staff of a brand new alternative school in another district. In every audience there are various attitudes that are fairly easy to read on the faces of those about to subjected to my marvelous insights!
  • Importance of Education (11/7/2015) - I grew up knowing there were two tracks to my future education. The first was a vocational type training that included secretarial, home economics (read sou chef). mechanic and others. Then there was that 4 year college degree which promised a future secure in job, career and financial stability.
  • Bleak News About Americans in the Prime of Life (11/7/2015) - Two recent data sets indicate that many Americans in the prime of life are not thriving, either economically or in terms of health and longevity. And the one set of data is likely impacting the other in very negative ways. According to economic commentator Martin Wolf, “The relentless decline in the proportion of prime-aged US adults in the labour market indicates a significant dysfunction.”