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American Falls becomes first opportunity community in state

American Falls is the first city in Idaho to become an “Opportunity Community” in it’s effort to eliminate poverty.

The city is looking to achieve a community that they all want to live in by increasing prosperity for the crisis of poverty.

The conference was put together by concerned residents and educational leaders over poverty in their area.

“This is kind of a culminating event of a project that we’d been working on for the last six months,” said Randy Jensen, the Superintendent American Falls School District. “We’re just really hoping we can take good strides to American Falls to provide assailants of those people that live in poverty in our community.”

Discussions charity versus opportunities was a big focal point on the meeting. Dr. Donna Beegel was invited by the town to help launch her base model to assist people in moving and staying out of poverty.

“The model is really an effort to create the capacity within communities to end poverty here,” Said Dr. Beegel, the President of Communications Across Barriers. “We’re really looking to remove the shame rebuild the hope, reduce isolation and conduct them with someone in the community who will walk with them for a year.”

Dr. Beegel experienced first hand the key issues for living in poverty.

“Part of what I bring into this works is that I was born into generational migrant labor poverty dropped out of school at 15, the only person in my family who hasn’t been incarerated,” Said Dr. Beegel. “I got my GED at 26. I couldn’t write a complete sentence, I said ain’t every other word. I went on to study a doctorate. I studied poverty, so most of the people who haven’t taught a training poverty are developed programs, they haven’t lived it. So this is a program developed by people who are living it, have lived it.”

Individuals living in poverty are referred to as neighbors throughout the meeting. More than 75 volunteer members have been trained and issued the title as navigators.

Some of them experienced hardships themselves and now want to lend a hand to others.

“I was addicated to opiods for about 3 years, I got some help through the drug courts. I’ve been clean for about almost three years,” Said Aleacia Huber, one of the navigators. “I never thought that I could be a navigator but it turns out that I have a lot of skills. I have a lot of resources that I can help others. I know for a fact that there are people who have been in my position before.”

The goal is to increase engagement and provide structure for a better-connected community.

All the navigators and neighbors who attended this meeting will get together again a round this time next year to evaluate their team members individual improvement.

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