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Thirteen local organizations are coming together to bring Dr. Ruby Payne to Springfield to find new ways to overcome the growing issue of poverty in southwest Missouri. KSMU’s Theresa Bettmann has more on the series of events, which are less than two weeks away.
The issue of poverty is not new to Springfield. But some recent new data is glaring, such as the fact that nearly 60 percent of Springfield Public School students participate in the free and reduced lunch program.
Care to Learn, the Junior League of Springfield and eleven other organizations are enlisting the help of Dr. Ruby Payne over a two-day period in February. Care to Learn Executive Director Morey Mechlin says the purpose of Payne’s visit will be to utilize her expertise and bring everyone to the table to create a viable five, 10 and 20-year plan to reverse the poverty trend.
“We are going to have her meeting with the government leaders, our city and county officials, she will be meeting with many of the non-profits that are addressing the issues with poverty. She will be meeting with all of us individually and as a group to hear what we are currently doing, and hopefully identify those gaps where we are currently failing to meet the need,” Mechlin says.
Dr. Ruby Payne has been involved in the educational system and working with poverty since 1972. She has visited numerous cities in the U.S. and around the world. Payne is the author of several books on the subject including “A Framework for Understanding Poverty-A Cognitive Approach.” Mechlin says she is excited about Payne’s visit because she will bring a fresh and knowledgeable perspective.
“I love the quote that says, ‘the definition of insanity is continuing to do the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.’ That seems to be what we’ve been doing, we’re doing the same thing but not getting the different result. So we are looking for a different result with her interaction,” says Mechlin.
There are two events the public can participate in, says Mechlin. Tuesday, February 11th will be a dinner conference at the White River Conference Center. The cost is $30 and reservations are required. The other event is free and open to the public on Wednesday morning February 12th from 8 to 11:30. This will be at Hammons Hall and reservations are also required.
“I just hope that anyone interested, come and attend one of the public opportunities. And I think you will see that truly we have a problem, but we also have the ability to reverse the problem, and it’s time to do that,” says Mechlin.
Susie Turner, president of the Junior League of Springfield, says the public response has already been tremendous. As of Friday, as least 300 people had signed up for the dinner and 1,000 had registered for the free event at Hammons Hall.
Reservations can be made by calling Care to Learn at 417-862-7771.
For KSMU News, I’m Theresa Bettmann.