Turning Tide on Poverty produces results

By Amanda McBride
The Choctaw Plaindealer

Good things come out of communities gathering and focusing on issues
in their area. A few examples of this are a Farmer’s Market, Flea
Market, computer classes, GED tutoring and more.

These examples are a few results of the Turning the Tide on Poverty
action teams and community circles.
Turning the Tide on Poverty is a program through the Southern Rural
Development Center and is led in Choctaw County through the
Mississippi State University Extension Service-Choctaw County. The
SRDC identified Choctaw County as one of the five most distressed
counties in the state of Mississippi. The Tide is a program or
process that helps communities take action to fight poverty and help
families/individuals become more prosperous.

After a process of training leaders, creating community circles and
people in the communities of Ackerman, Weir, Chester, Panhandle,
Reform and Bywy, came up with three ideas and suggestions to help
fight poverty, with some solutions community based and others county
wide.

Once those ideas were gathered, at an action forum, the Tide project
leaders and the community circles identified many concepts and
created action teams.

“We want to strengthen our current projects and hope to add others.
We can’t eliminate poverty but we can help,” said Juli Hughes,
Choctaw County Extension County Director, about the Tide project.

Here are some of the results from the Tide action teams.

• Flea Market-A flea market has been held in Ackerman and Weir
this past fall with local vendors selling anything except home baked/
made goods. Flea markets are planned for Ackerman on Saturday, April
6 and Weir on May 4. Anyone interested can become a vendor, small or
large, for the flea market, with no fee. Pick up a vendor
registration form from the Extension office or Broken Wings. This
committee also needs more volunteers to help plan and facilitate the
flea markets.
• Farmer’s Market-A farmer’s market was held in Ackerman last
summer and will kickoff this year during JuneFest on June 1.
This market encourages any local farmers, small or large, to become a
vendor selling their produce. Many local people came to the market
and bought fresh fruit and vegetables. Vendors are needed for this
year’s market. The market is held in downtown Ackerman.

• Adult Mentoring-This is being done through free basic computer
and financial skills classes at Broken Wings Ministry in Ackerman.
The computer skills classes are underway currently with plans for
future classes. Two free grant writing workshops were also held.

• Resource Guide-Committee members are currently compiling
information now. This guide will offer information on services,
clubs, organizations and agencies that serve Choctaw County and
include ways theses services may help families/individuals in need.

• Reform Ball Park Walking Track-This committee is in the process
of raising funds to create a walking track around the Reform Baseball
Park. This would provide a safe area for communities to walk and
exercise. They are collecting cans as a fundraiser. The next can
collection day will be Saturday, April 6 from 9 a.m.-11 a.m. and on
April 20 at the Reform Ball Park. Everyone is encouraged to donate
cans to help make the walking track a reality.

• Spay-Panhandle Park-This committee is working to establish a
community park giving people a place to come together for activities
and sporting events. The site has been cleared and prepped so far.

• Weir GED tutoring-A group of individuals are offering free GED
tutoring to interested people. Currently nine people are
participating. The group tutors then the individual takes the GED
test somewhere else. Tutors and GED study guides are needed.

• Weir Summer Reading Program-Was held last summer with four fun,
educational activities with 195 children participating. Activities
were held at the Weir Library and I Can Weir Childcare Center.
Programs are being planned for the summer.

If anyone would like to volunteer with any of these action teams or
learn more about Turning the Tide on Poverty in Choctaw County,
contact Juli Hughes at the Extension Office at 285-6337 or Kay Blake
at Broken Wings at 285-9133.