Focusing a different lens on poverty

Volunteer of the Year winner Lynn Phillips-Gaines

Oct 12, 2014 @ 12:01 am

By Liz Skinner

Lynn Phillips-Gaines won Volunteer of the Year for founding Starkville Bridges Out of Poverty, a nonprofit aimed at eradicating poverty in Oktibbeha County, Miss.

Ms. Phillips-Gaines, a principal of Phillips Financial in Starkville, Miss., founded the nonprofit after reading “Bridges Out of Poverty,” a book about how communities need to work together to understand and drive out poverty.

The organization created by Ms. Phillips-Gaines focuses on teaching low-income residents how to improve their financial situations, including lessons on “the hidden rules of the middle class.” At the same time, the nonprofit educates middle-class citizens about the causes and realities of poverty.

"A DISCONNECT'

“People in poverty already know there is a disconnect between their world and the middle-class world,” she said. “The biggest problem with poverty is the middle-class and wealthy groups create programs that make us feel good, but never stop to see what that looks like to someone in [a lower] socioeconomic group.”

Programs like food kitchens or “adopt-a-family” programs at Christmas can work to destroy the recipients' self-esteem by doing things for them that they could do for themselves, Ms. Phillips-Gaines said.

Instead of only giving food and dealing with emergencies, more needs to be done on the structural side within the community to provide education and other resources to transition the poor into the middle class, she said.

“Those in poverty are not subhuman; they are incredible problem-solvers, actually. They are simply working within the constraints that they have,” she said.

In addition to helping adults get ahead, the nonprofit sponsors a children's mentor program called Building Bridges for Kids, which trains college students as volunteer mentors for children ages 3 to 15. The program helps teach children financial concepts, but also the appropriate language used in the real world; the way to behave, such as negotiating instead of fighting; good time management; and dressing advice, she said.

The award comes with a $20,000 stipend that will be used to support the programs of Starkville Bridges Out of Poverty.

Ms. Phillips-Gaines, who is a certified financial planner, opened her independent advisory business 30 years ago.

She also is an ordained deacon in the Episcopal Church and lives in Starkville with her husband, Russell.

0
Comments

What do you think?

View comments

Recommended for you

Latest news & opinion

Ameriprise to pay $4.5 million to settle SEC charges that five reps stole more than $1 million from clients

Agency censures firm for not protecting clients from thieving brokers.

SEC slaps Lockwood with $200,000 fine over unseen trading costs to clients

Clients were forced to pay fees in addition to the usual wrap charges, the regulator maintains.

Gotcha! 10 lessons from brokers gone bad

These cases show why regulators nabbed reps and firms, and how to avoid their fate.

Tax-credit investigation may trip up Wells Fargo

Justice Department is investigating bank's dealings in tax credits for low-income housing, sources say.

10 biggest boomtowns in America

These metro areas are seeing the biggest influx of people, work opportunities and business growth.

X

Hi! Glad you're here and we hope you like all the great work we do here at InvestmentNews. But what we do is expensive and is funded in part by our sponsors. So won't you show our sponsors a little love by whitelisting investmentnews.com? It'll help us continue to serve you.

Yes, show me how to whitelist investmentnews.com

Ad blocker detected. Please whitelist us or give premium a try.

X

Subscribe and Save 60%

Premium Access
Print + Digital

Learn more
Subscribe to Print