, Muskogee, OK

January 28, 2014

Programs give much needed help

— The old proverb “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime,” reminds us of a couple of local programs that figuratively are doing just that.

Both Muskogee Public Housing’s Family Self-Sufficiency Program and the Bridges out of Poverty programs are taking sound approaches to a problem that  has gripped Muskogee for far too long.

Both programs don’t just offer help for the problem (giving a fish). The programs show participants how to address the problem so the participants better themselves, hopefully eliminating the problem (teaching to fish).

The Muskogee Public Housing Family Self-Sufficiency Program gives eligible participants financial education, job search assistance, and other skill development opportunities.

In order to participate, program candidates must sign a five-year contract that requires the head of the household to obtain employment and no longer receive welfare assistance after the five-year period ends.

Bridges out of Poverty is a program that began in October 2011 and is based on the nationally acclaimed Bridges out of Poverty model. Its goal is to reduce the number of people who are in poverty in Muskogee. To meet this goal, the program operates in two areas. The first is educating people who are not in poverty about the complex issue of poverty.

Programs like these that address the issue and try to get a family self-sufficient are great.

Those who don’t like entitlements or “handouts” surely should see the value in these programs.

Because these aren’t handouts. They’re handups.

For Muskogee to be successful, these programs must be, too.