By Kimberly J. Ruiz

I first attended the Addressing the Challenges of Poverty conference in October 2009; what a difference it has made in my career. I was just getting ready to start facilitating our first Getting Ahead group in Monroe, Michigan. I looked into aha! Process a little deeper and realized the conference was going to take place in a month, so I attended. I didn’t know what to expect, but what excited me the most was the diversity of sectors that presented and attended. It wasn’t just about housing, homelessness, substance abuse, Head Start, health, seniors, or poverty; it was being able to bring all that information together and share with how we love one another.


See, poverty isn’t just about the money people don’t have; it is about addressing the challenges a whole community has. We all are passionate about something, but what not everyone understands is how “that something” connects to everything else. When that college student is struggling to get that degree, when there is an epidemic with heroin or other opiates, when the senior citizen can’t take care of him- or herself. How about the teenager who is trying to survive because a parent isn’t doing it for them? It takes more than the parent, educator, doctor, social worker, community action agency, law enforcement worker, et al.

At this conference you will gain that sense of love that is required from us as human beings. Each person brings a uniqueness of how they are using the concepts of Bridges Out of Poverty in their communities and the difference it is making. I believe the biggest part that touched me was the graduates from the Getting Ahead groups around the world who shared their stories because their hope has been restored.

Coming together allows us to see how impacting our communities impacts the nation!

May you each be blessed in all you set out to endeavor.