Rose Scott of Kenora will soon be a graduate. She's been a part of the Bridges out of Poverty program.

"I've learned how to survive as a poor person, and how to communicate with the different resources," she said, after a deputation to Kenora's city council.

Scott adds she's also using what she's learned to help others, including those who are on the street and homeless.

The Circles / Bridges Out of Poverty program comes to Kenora out of southern Ontario and the U.S., and it helps individuals who want change in their lives to find resources and supports to make a change. From Lambton County in southern Ontario, the program has made its way north to Timiskaming, where an Indigenous program is offered.

After an initial workshop, a 16-week program helps participants find the resources and get the support they need, in order to provide some stability in their lives.

From the first course, seven of the 12 applicants finished. In two weeks, a second course will end, and as many as seven of 11 will finish.

Denise Copenace was also part of the delegation. She is one of four who made their way to city hall last week. She's also completing the Bridges out of Poverty program.

"It helped me get out of the rut," she noted. "You fall into a rut, when you're in poverty. It brought up my self-esteem, get myself going and get out of where I'm at."

Copenace was a personal support worker, who fell into poverty after some health issues.

The delegation was led by Charlene Ramage, who was a member of Ignace council and a paramedic, before she fell off a roof and was injured. She had a masters degree in social work, but still had personal issues she needed to overcome through the Bridges to Poverty program.

Over the last couple of years, the congregation at St. Alban's has been working with the health unit, NeChee Friendship Centre and the Kenora District Services Board. Together, they're looking for allies -- or mentors -- to help prevent relapses. They've set a meeting for June 6.

For more information:

Breaking the cycle of poverty

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