Neighbors helping neighbors



February 19, 2010 - 12:00 AM

Workshop aims to help with poverty fight

“The thing I felt least prepared for when I came out of seminary,” said Jim Rausch, pastor of Iola’s First Presbyterian Church, “was helping people with limited resources.”
Rausch said he was spurred to look into refining his methods of care after years of dealing with local and transient populations. If assistance doesn’t change the foundation of poverty, he said, it “ends up being a Band-Aid.”
After 12 years in Iola, Rausch has faced up to that problem countless times.
“I’ve felt like in my time here I’ve never found the right approach,” he said.
So, with the help of Wesley United Methodist’s Trudy Kenyon Anderson and Nancy Maier of the Area Agency on Aging, Rausch has planned two workshops using Beth Lindsay Templeton’s guide, “Loving Our Neighbor: A Thoughtful Approach to Helping People in Poverty.”
“It struck me during the flood relief that there are a lot of people who want to help but wouldn’t know how. This book has the ABCs of what to do. It would help a person like me to not be so lost,” Rausch said.
The material “contains what I believe to be information too good not to share on a topic that not only touches our hearts, but is highly relevant for our community,” he noted.
Rausch said he believes the sessions will be “something many people in our community will find very useful and compelling.”  
Workshops will be from 9:30 to 11 a.m. Saturday and again from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, both in Community National Bank’s basement conference room. Enter through the east door closest to the library; an elevator is available. Both workshops will offer the same information. There is no cost to attend.
Copies of the book will be available at the workshops for $10 apiece, discounted — thanks to donations — from the cover price of $17.95, Rausch said.  

RAUSCH MET Templeton at a Christian educator’s conference in Nashville a few weeks ago, he said. She made him aware how simple tasks like filling out forms can be perceived differently to those with a limited education. “There’s a perception that you have to get it right. That if you make a mistake, you won’t be helped,” he noted.
The workshops will help make the community aware of the different languages and values of varied classes in our society, Maier said.
“It’s so middle class to be focused on work and achievement, that we miss out on relationships,” Maier said. Even when working multiple jobs to get by, families in poverty focus on maintaining bonds with each other, she said. “When you work with the working poor, you realize, they’ve got this right, I’ve got it wrong,” she observed.
Templeton’s book, Kenyon Anderson said, offers a how-to on dealing with poverty “devoid of our own perceptions.”
“She makes you look at different levels of help, not only meeting immediate needs, but by making people be more self sufficient,” and  dissembling “the intergenerational cycles of poverty,” Maier said.
“I think my favorite part of the book is how she takes the beatitudes,” Maier added. “If you follow the teachings in the beatitudes, you have to reach out, you have to care, you have to do something.”

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