By MATT CRANE
Nina Ammon said her work is about establishing relationships.
“There’s no other course like this,” she said. “It’s about getting to know who’s involved in your community on a one-on-one basis.”
Ammon recently took over the position of operation administrator for Starkville Bridges Out of Poverty, a role previously filled by Tequilla Manning who left the organization after being accepted to medical school.
Ammon said the organization stresses three main components: Bridges Out of Poverty, Getting Ahead and Circles Out of Poverty.
Bridges Out of Poverty focuses on middle-class participants understanding truths about poverty and developing insights and a shared language when working with impoverished citizens throughout the community.
Ammon said the Getting Ahead portion of the organization’s objective involves a 15-week session of two-and-a-half hour classes teaching about the causes of poverty, hidden rules of the middle class and building resources.
“The classes meet every Tuesday at Emerson (Family School) where we teach the book ‘Getting Ahead in a Just-Getting-By World’,” she said. “It’s not a lecture, though. It’s not about our facilitators talking at the participants.”
The third component, Circles Out of Poverty, is a graduate program where middle-class participants are paired with graduates from the Getting Ahead class to implement their plans of action. Ammon said the graduate program began six months ago, and all 12 participants graduated.
Ammon said she first heard about Bridges through Lynn Phillips-Gaines at the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection where Phillips-Gaines is a deacon.
“I wanted to get involved and volunteer my time just from an outsider’s standpoint,” she said.
Ammon said she is inspired by the dedication she has seen from Manning and Phillips-Gaines, president of Bridges’ board of directors.
“I want to do everything I can to make sure this succeeds,” she said. “I’ve already seen the benefits of the course, and I want to help make this a long established non-profit in Starkville.”
Ammon said she has heard many recent graduates are making choices to change their lives.
“We’re teaching a realistic set of constructs where you get to know people on an individual level,” she said. “It’s taking a realistic approach to helping people.”
The first class of the new session begins Tuesday, June 5 at Emerson, Ammon said.
“We don’t want this to be a nameless, faceless course,” she said. “We’re training participants to really listen to people.”
The group has scheduled a Summer Soiree for 6:30 p.m. on June 14 in the Bryan Administration Building as a fundraising event.
Above all, Ammon said she loves the organization’s attention to giving credit to the individuals affected by poverty in the community.
“It’s about inviting every single person to have a voice,” she said. “Lynn uses a wonderful quote that says ‘There can be no significant learning without a significant relationship.’ And I love that.”
For more information about Starkville Bridges Out of Poverty, visit http://www.starkvillebridges.com  or call 662-418-3100.