Opportunity Conference educates, inspires

"If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime." - Chinese Proverb

Poverty is an ever-present problem just about everywhere - according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 16.9% of Amarillo residents and 22.7% of Potter County residents live below the poverty line. And in many cases, breaking that cycle requires more than just a helping hand - it requires a guiding hand.

Panhandle Twenty/20 and No Limits No Excuses partnered together to host the third Opportunity Conference in Amarillo. The conference features speakers, volunteers, navigators, and educators to help anyone who wants to get ahead

in life take the first step. Keynote speaker Dr. Donna Beegle of Communication Across Barriers shared her own story of homelessness and hardship, and finding the strength and the means to get her life back for herself and her children.

Dr. Dana West is the Executive Director for Student Performance in the Caprock Cluster of AISD, and also serves as a volunteer co-chair for Opportunity Conference. She says the idea behind the initiative is to empower those who have the will and the desire to improve their lot in life, but don't know where to start.

"We want to help people help themselves," says Dr. West. "A lot of times, people are lost; they know that they want tot do better, they know they have something they want to accomplish, but they're not necessarily sure what are the resources in our community that can help them, they're not sure how to go get signed up at Amarillo College or West Texas A&M."

Statistically, high school graduation rates are closely correlated to poverty rates. In Amarillo, almost twenty percent of adults do not have a high school degree, and about twenty percent of children who grow up in low-income households won't graduate high school.

"It's all about education," says Dr. West. "There are people in this community that want to help people get an education. In Amarillo, we have educated people. In Amarillo, we have money. In Amarillo, we have folks that know how to get things done. And so there's no excuse for why we in Amarillo can't step forward and help others."

If you'd like to learn how you can find help or help others, just follow the links to Panhandle Twenty/20 and No Limits No Excuses attached to this story.