Second 'graduation' for Bright Futures Families
Bright Futures Families of Augusta hosted a second graduation ceremony since the program began last year. The special event honoring people who learned ways to improve their finances, education and lives and those who supported them on their journey, was held at the Augusta Methodist Church.
Bright Futures Families is a program that helps foster relationships between families in poverty and middle class “friendtors”, who are volunteers that become friends. The focus lies in creating lasting change, rather than short-term assistance. The experience gives ownership in their lives. The families are provided tools to help get them out of poverty.
The Bright Future family leaders met weekly with their friendtors, completed an 18 week course on topics from budgeting to reaching career goals. The weekly meetings included childcare, a meal, programming, and goal setting.
Those involved with the Bright Futures program know that it is unwise to judge others’ circumstances and that most people living in poverty are not looking for a handout, but simply a way out. Parents in poverty love their children, but are in a constant state of survival mode stressing about food and other basic necessities.
Barb McCalla and Jennifer Scheuber, co-facilitators for the group, share their experiences, as well as personal words of encouragement to each graduate.
“This is a special group of graduates...They put in a lot of work the last few months...They faced problems with honesty, grit and determination,” McCalla explained, “We all must understand poverty and recognize what it looks like.”
The graduates shared some of their experiences with the audience, as well as thanking all those involved in helping to change lives.
Katy, a married mother of five, shared her experience in getting behind in making ends meet.
“I heard about this program that helps families with low income and finances...I had my doubts but now I understand that living in poverty doesn’t last forever...BFF is like my extended family and has given me the courage to do better for myself and my family.”
Heather Plaza, local Director of Bright Futures Families, shared that the graduating group represents Augusta, Douglass, Towanda, and El Dorado.
“We have 1,000 in Augusta living in poverty and 5,000 households in Butler County...It’s incredibly hard for some in this holiday season,” Plaza continued, “We are thankful to those who recognize these families. Lift up Bright Futures Families in your prayers.”
Plaza explained that seven more friendtors are needed for the next term. Volunteers to fix the meals, as well as financial partners are also needed.
Bright Futures Family depends on community support involvement as it mobilizes volunteers, community leaders and organizations to partner with families willing to lead themselves to financial sustainability.
The program reduces the number of families and individuals who rely on government programs and charitable aid. More importantly, it breaks the cycle of poverty as graduates teach their children how to get ahead, not just get by.
Community members help participants find better ways to budget, resolve conflict, and gain the skills needed for successful employment. The best part about the program is the fact that participants are changing their own lives. No handouts are given. People are supporting one another through friendship and fellowship to make like better for the community.
Call 316 619 3157 for more information. Look for Augusta Bright Futures Families on Facebook.
According to the United States Census Bureau:
Income & Poverty in Butler County, Kansas
Median household income (in 2017 dollars), 2013-2017; $62,324
Per capita income in past 12 months (in 2017 dollars), 2013-2017: $28,478
Persons in poverty: 10.1 percent, with a rising trend