Commerce
4:58 pm
Mon April 30, 2012

How can Commerce Reduce Poverty?

COMMERCE - The battle against poverty moves on following a recent meeting in Commerce among concerned citizens and organizational leaders like Bert Cooper, executive director of Community SEEDS.

The community outreach organization based in Lone Oak formed in 2009 and serves the economically disadvantaged, poor and underserved people of the area through the Christian community.

Cooper says there’s tremendous interest in partnering together to further not only that dialog but to put some real boots on the ground in the effort.

“Our discussion last week focused on who we are as a 501(c)(3) faith-based agency and who we can assist in their endeavor to, again, make a dent in poverty and the need for other services to our community,” Cooper said. 

22 percent of Hunt County citizens are at or below the poverty level, according to Cooper. And it will take the help of everyone to end concerns for food, emergency and housing.

“Together we can make a difference. Separately or if people have denominational concerns, it just hampers the efforts. We know that there’s poverty. We know there’s great need. We want to further our group of people to better themselves as opposed to holding people back because of prejudices like denominational ties or communication ties or any of those things. Even though people may change, the need is still there and we’re trying to address that need.”

One way Community SEEDS will provide assistance, according to Cooper, is by teaming with the local ministerial alliance, who will deposit funds for reserve specifically for Commerce into the organization.  Community SEEDS will then be held accountable by the ministerial alliance to serve any need covered by those available funds, when requested.

Commerce resident Wyman Williams was also invited to present during last week’s meeting. He was part of the original group of advocates for starting EPIC, or Eliminating Poverty in Commerce.  The idea was to mobilize the community into action to break the cycle of generational poverty in town.

“We had leadership changes among several of the entities that were initially involved and it ceased to be a continuing discussion. And recently there’s a new group of leaders that want to be informed about what happened; why, how and what resulted and what we may do for the future,” Williams told KETR in a recent interview.  

Two things that exist from the early stages of EPIC include support of the Communities in Schools Program at Commerce ISD and the Commerce Community Garden, which remains viable, according to Williams.