Summit held to combat Mississippi's high poverty rate - - Jackson, MS

Summit held to combat Mississippi's high poverty rate

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By Ashley Conroy - email

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Hundreds of low-income advocates gathered for a three-day summit at the Marriott Hotel in Jackson to try to come up with solutions on how to combat the state's high poverty rate.

This is the 11th year the Mississippi Association for Community Action Agency has hosted the Annual Partnership Conference; however, since the economy took a turn for the worse, some said this conference means that much more.

"We used to see more elderly people.  Now we're seeing more young people coming in," said LaPrince Evans, a social worker for the association in Crystal Springs.  "And I just thank God that we're able to be there to help them at this time in their life."

Thursday, guest speakers included NAACP President Derrick Johnson and the Mississippi House Majority Leader Tyrone Ellis, a Democrat from Starkville.

Representative Ellis said he wants more people to come together to help reduce the state's poverty level.

"We as a community action agency are people that are going to help them get to that point," Ellis said.

Research shows that one out of every four-to-five Mississippians live in poverty.  Income for the federal poverty level for a family of four is $22,050.

Entergy Mississippi has been a major advocate in partnering at this summit for 11 years.

The company reported that about 25-percent of their 435-thousand customers lives in poverty.

In a statement, Liz Brister, Entergy Manager of External Affairs, said: "That's one out of every four people!  That is unacceptable to us."

Customer Service Director Gloria Johnson said she hopes more people will get involved and eventually form a state-wide initiative.  "And I think the more we talk about poverty, and more importantly the more we come up with solutions and programs to combat poverty, we can make a difference."

Representative Ellis applauded the summit's efforts and said he hopes more people will serve the needy in Mississippi.

"And you all are servants.  We all are servants," said Ellis.

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