LAWTON, OK (KSWO)- Lawton's Salvation Army is gearing up for their "Getting Ahead" program this year. "Getting Ahead" is a 20-week course that helps individuals impacted by poverty, work out ways to better themselves and the lives of their families.
"It provides them a chance to look at their lives and ways to improve their lives," said Sheryl White, committee member.
White said Oklahoma has a 16 percent poverty rate and their goal is to reduce that number by connecting with the people who have experienced it firsthand.
"They are considered investigators in the program and they investigate the reasons why they are living in poverty," said White.
This year's class will accommodate 20 people. Participants must be 18 or older and cannot be homeless. Free childcare, transportation, and dinner will be provided. A stipend will also be given to those participating each week.
Taylor Thompson is a facilitator and leader of the course this year. She said she's eager to see the change in those involved in and out the classroom.
"Poverty is something that affects the entire community," said Thompson. "So, while we are in the classes discussing poverty and how it affects those individuals we also want to talk about how it affects the community as a whole and what we can do to end poverty."
Last year's program had 26 graduates.
Getting Ahead coordinator Debra Johnson said her hope is to bring some graduates back from last year to help in this year's program.
"Anytime someone can say I understand and it be genuine it can go a long way," said Johnson. "Those individuals have not only been there but they're now at the place the current class would hope to be."
White sends a message to those considering joining the class.
"I would encourage those who feel like they just don't have enough always at the end of the month and they're doing everything they can, but they just can't seem to get ahead," said White. "But this particular program will give them the skills and opportunities to help them to get ahead."
The Salvation Army will begin accepting applications Monday. You can pick up them up across the community.
A full list of locations can be found on their Facebook page.
The deadline for all applications is January 26th and can be dropped off at the Salvation Army at 1314 Southwest E Avenue.