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National poverty expert and author Ruby Payne blended stories about her family and experiences as a teacher to motivate more than 250 people today to tackle poverty in the community.
More than 300 community and business leaders, educators, and social service professionals attended two workshops at the United Way of Greater Toledo in downtown Toledo. The workshops previewed today's forum on poverty, one in the "Changing Minds and Changing Lives: Combating Racism" speaker series.
Ms. Payne, co-author of Bridges Out of Poverty, used humor and anecdotes at the workshops to point out the socio-economic differences that the wealthy and educated often take for granted in conversations about the reasons that generations remain in poverty.
She said "hidden rules" that don't apply to other classes and the limited vocabulary spoken in their households are among the issues that are holding back people in education and the work force. She encouraged participants to learn about those hidden rules and social issues particular to the poor to allow everyone to get a better understanding of each other so that no one is offended.
"One of the mistakes we make in communities is that we don't invite people [ who live] in poverty to the table when we are making decisions," she said.
Ms. Payne will be the keynote speaker at tonight's forum. The program begins at 7 p.m. in Central Catholic High School's Sullivan Center.
Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Inc., Toledo Chapter of the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests, Toledo Community Coalition, and The Blade worked together to bring Ms. Payne to Toledo for the workshops and forum.