Seven graduate from Bridges Out of Poverty

Published 11:00 am Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Bridges Out of Poverty graduates pictured with Mayor George Flaggs Jr. are, Pamela Cooper, Alberta I. Crockett, Tiajuanna Molphus, DeSharon Gray and Corrine Stockton, facilitator for the program.

Bridges Out of Poverty graduates pictured with Mayor George Flaggs Jr. are, Pamela Cooper, Alberta I. Crockett, Tiajuanna Molphus, DeSharon Gray and Corrine Stockton, facilitator for the program.

Pamela Cooper is not clairvoyant, but she could see her future was not looking rosy.

“I saw where I was and I didn’t want it to be the outcome,” Cooper said.

Instead of simply wishing her life would improve, Cooper decided to be proactive and applied for a program that was offered by the West Central Mississippi Bridges Out of Poverty organization.

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“Getting Ahead, in a Just-Gettin’-by World” is an investigative program into poverty, said Corrine Stockton, the facilitator for the program.

The final results of that program were on display Monday night, at a graduation ceremony held for seven women who completed the 16-week course.

Bridges Out of Poverty is a non-profit community organization that provides resources and information to those living in poverty, helps the community understand the causes of poverty and works to reduce the rate of poverty.

“The Bridges Out Of Poverty concept is a multi-layered approach to finding ways to eradicate poverty,” said Stockton, who added, “I don’t like using the word ‘poverty.’ I really like to say ‘under-resourced.’”

Twenty-two referrals were received for the extensive 16-week program and from those, a selection committee chose 12, said Stockton.

An orientation was held, and seven stayed.

“At first I was a little apprehensive,” said Cooper, referring to the program. After classes got under way, she said she was able to see who she was, where she was and where she wanted to go.

“The program gave me tools I will carry throughout my life, and it opened my eyes a lot to how you are perceived by people,” she said.

During the classes participants learned how to bridge the cultural gap with the middle class, said Stockton. The lessons included information about “hidden rules.”

“Hidden rules” are characterized as the unspoken cues or habits of a group that let you know if you do or do not belong.

For Cooper, an epiphany came when she learned that people could misinterpret her direct personality.

“Basically Southerners don’t take well to forward people,” Cooper said, and she said the program helped her realize that this “hidden rule” could have been a reason why some people kept her at arms length.

Other areas of focus during the 16-week training course included learning about predators — people who prey on people with no money, which include the rent to own, payday loans and used car loan businesses, said Cooper.

“You can wind up paying three times as much for things,” she said.

Solutions that were taught during the course, Cooper said, included starting an emergency fund to help keep you from being trapped into a “quick fix” and detaching from a situation so you can figure out a solution — so you don’t go deeper into debt.

Detaching means coming out of a concrete way of thinking and moving to abstract thinking, said Stockton.

“Concrete is living in the moment like a hamster on a wheel just going around and around whereas abstract thinking is when one can detach— think and plan,” she said.

More than 30 people attended Monday’s graduation ceremony that was held at the Good Shepherd Community Center, where the women met for the program.

Cooper said each week before the classes began, dinner was served and childcare was also made available.

“The goal of this program is to give people the tools to get ahead instead of just getting by,” said Stockton.”

“I would absolutely recommend this program. I wish everyone in my situation or worse could take this class and really learn from it,” said Cooper.

“Sixteen weeks can sound overwhelming to commit, but I’m glad I made the decision to do that,” she said.

Cooper said she plans to enroll in college in the spring where she will be taking communication and broadcasting classes.

“I want to work in radio, and I’m going to make that dream a reality.”

Bridges Out Of Poverty is sponsored by the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi, the United Way of West Central Mississippi, Christ Episcopal Church, the Church of the Holy Trinity, Episcopal, Good Shepherd Community Center and St. James Episcopal Church in Port Gibson.

For more information about Central Mississippi Bridges Out Of Poverty, visit

About Terri Cowart Frazier

Terri Frazier was born in Cleveland. Shortly afterward, the family moved to Vicksburg. She is a part-time reporter at The Vicksburg Post and is the editor of the Vicksburg Living Magazine, which has been awarded First Place by the Mississippi Press Association. She has also been the recipient of a First Place award in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest’s editorial division for the “Best Feature Story.”

Terri graduated from Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations.

Prior to coming to work at The Post a little more than 10 years ago, she did some freelancing at the Jackson Free Press. But for most of her life, she enjoyed being a full-time stay at home mom.

Terri is a member of the Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is a lifetime member of the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and is a past member of the Sampler Antique Club and Town and Country Garden Club. She is married to Dr. Walter Frazier.

“From staying informed with local governmental issues to hearing the stories of its people, a hometown newspaper is vital to a community. I have felt privileged to be part of a dedicated team at The Post throughout my tenure and hope that with theirs and with local support, I will be able to continue to grow and hone in on my skills as I help share the stories in Vicksburg. When asked what I like most about my job, my answer is always ‘the people.’

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