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County Coalition to Present “Poverty Symposium: Help Erase Poverty” Sept. 25-27

“Our goal is to raise awareness of the serious challenges that poverty presents to the residents of Oberlin and Lorain County. As members of religious and secular communities, we commit ourselves to the amelioration of poverty today and the eradication of poverty tomorrow.”
Poverty Symposium Coalition

OBERLIN, OHIO — Do you know what it’s like to be poor in Lorain County?

“If you care and want to learn what can be done about it, come to Poverty Symposium: Help Erase Poverty,” say the organizers, a countywide coalition comprised of Oberlin College, concerned citizens, agencies, and officials. They began forming nearly two years ago to address the issue and plan the multi-event program, which will be held Thursday through Saturday, September 25-27 at various sites in Oberlin. 

National, state, and county leaders involved in education, government, spiritual life, social service and related programs, interested residents, and area citizens with limited resources will take part in the three-day symposium – a program of wide ranging discussions and events that will detail exactly what it means to live below the poverty line in Lorain County and what actions can be taken to effect change.

“The coalition hopes Lorain County citizens in need, agencies that serve them, elected officials whose policies impact their lives, people of faith, and citizens who care will attend the symposium,” says Planning Committee Chair Carol Longsworth. “More than a hundred people are involved in the coalition. The planning committee itself is large and incredibly dedicated. We want to learn and we want to respond.  The Poverty Symposium is the beginning.”

Keynote speaker Marc Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League, will kick off the symposium at 8 p.m. Thursday in Finney Chapel with a talk titled “Closing the Economic Gap: America’s True Challenge.” Morial is responsible “for helping catapult the organization into the forefront of the country’s economic empowerment agenda,” says Fred Wright, executive director of the Lorain County Urban League. Live music and a Meet–the-Speaker reception will take place on the chapel steps preceding  the address.  Oberlin College and the Lorain County Urban League are co-sponsoring the event.

The Homeless Task Force of Lorain County  and Oberlin Community Services (OCS) will present Community Voices Day from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Friday at Oberlin Community Services Center, 285 S. Professor St.  Michael Payton, executive director of the Ohio Civil Rights Commission, and Jeanine Donaldson, executive director of the Elyria YWCA, will moderate panel discussions focused on issues that affect economic stability – hunger, education, health care, housing, jobs, and disabilities. Community Voices Day will include a free box lunch at noon (registration required at www.oberlin.edu/poverty), an Agencies Fair at 3 p.m., and a free All Community Picnic at 4 p.m.

“We want this day to include everyone in our community,” says OCS Director Linda Arbogast. “Poverty is an issue that affects us all in many ways.  We hope to bring the community together in a positive way to share a meal, hear testimonials by people who have lived in poverty, and learn what resources our community has to support those in need. This is also an event for families, so there will be music and activities for kids.”

At 9:30 a.m. Saturday at First Church, U.S. Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, State Senator Sue Morano, Common Pleas Judge James Burge, and Captain James Drozowski of the Lorain County Sheriff’s Office will discuss how public policies that affect people in poverty impact their offices. Former Oberlin City Council President Daniel Gardner will moderate.  At noon, Rev. Jennifer Kottler, campaign director of Illinois Works for the Future, will give a talk – “Prophetic Public Policy: A Radical Response to Poverty” – during a free luncheon sponsored by Oberlin College Christian Alumni (registration required at www.oberlin.edu/poverty).

The Poverty Symposium will conclude with a forum at 2 p.m. on “Food, Energy and Poverty” and at 3:15 p.m. with the panel discussion “Where Do We Go from Here?” Both events are in Craig Lecture Hall, located in the College’s Science Center, 119 Woodland St.

Major sponsors also include EnviroAlums of Oberlin College, Peace Çommunity Church, Oberlin’s Christ Episcopal Church, First Church in Oberlin, and House of the Lord Fellowship, City of Oberlin, Oberlin Public Schools, POWER (Providing Oberlin with Efficiency Responsibility), Community Peace Builders, and Catholic Action Committee of Lorain County plus other churches and private citizens.

Media Contact:
Oberlin College
Office of Communications

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