SHERIDAN — As part of their ongoing efforts to educate Sheridan residents about the social and economic effects of poverty in Wyoming, a pair of area social agencies is set to host its second day-long seminar on issues surrounding life under extreme financial hardship.
The Bridges Out of Poverty program is sponsored by the Center for a Vital Community at Sheridan College and the Sheridan YMCA.
The event will take place Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Y.
Led by Dr. Regina Lewis, a 15-year veteran of leadership development education, the program aims to provide a model for social and economic change by inspiring residents to consider the daily realities facing other members of their community.
Center for a Vital Community Executive Director Amy Albrecht said the day’s events focus on bridging the chasm of understanding that often separates members of different socioeconomic classes.
“Let’s stop with the us vs. them,” she said. “We’re never going to get any further unless we understand where each other is coming from.”
Albrecht, who was instrumental in organizing last fall’s Study Circles for Poverty initiative, said that by closing the gap between residents of different backgrounds, members of the Sheridan community can more successfully create means by which struggling individuals can climb the proverbial social latter.
The program is rooted in the idea that by understanding the challenges facing members of different economic classes, regular people can help improve the quality of life for their entire community.
“It’s all about learning from each other,” Albrecht said.
Sheridan resident Jack Burke attended the previous Bridges program and said people from all walks of life stand to benefit from attending. He said the diversity of opinions and numerous personal stories he encountered at the training made for an enlightening day.
“I think anybody can get something out of it,” he said.
Burke said the program was especially useful in dispelling some of the misconceptions that often cloud people’s comprehension of what it’s like to struggle with poverty.
Lewis is the chair of the communications department at Pikes Peak Community College in Colorado. She holds a Ph.D. in educational leadership in addition to several other degrees from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.
Albrecht says she hopes to build on the Bridges program in the coming months by engaging past participants in efforts to further help struggling residents gain a foothold on economic security.
Registration for the Bridges program costs $25 and includes lunch and an informational book. Participants are asked to pre-register by April 23 in order to guarantee a spot by calling Albrecht at 674-6446 or e-mailing email@example.com.