GULF BREEZE — Santa Rosa County Bridges Out of Poverty hosted a workshop Oct. 16 and 17 in Gulf Breeze on learning tools and strategies for a community to alleviate poverty. Fifty-six people from various county organizations attended, according to Bridges President Karen Barber.

International speaker Jodi Pfarr conducted training, with Barber speaking as well.

In the first day of training, participants reviewed poverty research and analyzed poverty through the hidden rules of class, resources, family structure and language.

The hidden rules are the unspoken ways those in poverty, the middle class, and the wealthy think about various resources, according to the Bridges training. For example, with money, those in poverty look to use and spend it. Those in middle class are concerned with managing it. The wealthy generally conserve and invest money.

The workshop was also a time to promote Bridges’ Getting Ahead (in a Just-Getting’-By World) classes. These classes help individuals in poverty build their resources to better their lives and their community, according to Barber.

“We’re looking for future facilitators for GA classes,” Barber said. “We currently have a GA class being sponsored by (the nonprofit Society of St. Vincent de Paul) from St. Sylvester’s (Catholic Church) in Navarre. We have another GA class taking registration starting Nov. 13 in Milton, which will be conducted by Community of Christ Church in Milton.”

Kimberly Lirette, director of programs with Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Northwest Florida and Vince Nguyen, health educator consultant with the Florida Department of Health, were among those who attended the training.

Lirette has been with Big Brothers Big Sisters since 2012 and said children from various economic classes come there.

“The lack of resources causes challenges, especially academically,” Lirette said.

She also noted bullying is a problem with children in poverty due to their wearing old, worn clothing.

Nguyen’s biggest takeaway from the workshop, he said, was seeing how the other participants reacted to learning what those in poverty live without having.

“It shocked them,” Nguyen said, “the simple things they have people (in poverty) don’t have. In morning, you have light, water, the restroom, toiletries. These people live in cars if have they have a car or behind a Dumpster or they couch surf. It’s sad, but for me, it reminds me where I came from.”

Nguyen said he moved from Vietnam to Escambia County as a child and his family had to rely on donations from organizations like the Catholic church until his father started a shrimping business.

“More workshops like this need to be in community,” Nguyen said, “to raise awareness about helping the ones that can’t help themselves.”

Bridges will hold a joint board meeting and community meeting as follow-up to this training, Barber said, at 2 p.m. Dec. 14. Email BarberK@santarosa.k12.fl.us for more information.

Sponsors for the training were United Way of Santa Rosa, Santa Rosa Medical Center, the Florida Health Department, the Santa Rosa School District, the Florida Department of Children and Families, Santa Rosa Economic Development and Aramark.