The Niagara County Coalition for Services to the Homeless, along with Buffalo/Niagara Falls and Erie/Niagara Counties Continuum of Care and Niagara University, hosted the fourth annual Poverty Conference, titled "Agents of Social Change: Community Engagement," on Friday.
The conference was held at the Doris W. Jones Family Resource Building in Niagara Falls and featured several workshops, speakers and programs to provide community members an opportunity to network and share ideas on social change.
"The goal today is all about community engagement," said Robyn L. Krueger, executive director of Community Missions of Niagara Frontier Inc. - the event's committee chairwoman. "Trying to help people understand what's available in the community, how they can add their voice to the community - maybe spark some ideas and empower other individuals that have ideas. We're hoping that people will take their individual voices and put them into action."
Those who attended the conference included local educators and other members of the community involved with social change and charity.
"We also have individuals who ... are recipients. So there's individuals who have come from Heart, Love and Soul's food pantry, there are some members of Community Missions' housing program, there are other individuals, again, from the community," Krueger said.
The Rev. Joseph L. Levesque, C.M., was one of the speakers at the event. He said he encourages these individuals to be "carful listeners; to be collaborative with one another; to be completely open-minded, because a lot of new ideas will come."
Levesque said the goal for these individuals is not only to alleviate aspects of poverty, such as a lack of food, clothing and/or housing, but also to find ways to help bring people out of poverty.
"These people are already agents of change, but they have to become more so, because the need is so great. ... My hope is that this is one more opportunity to listen, think, rest, eat, be with people and connect and say, 'I'm committed to doing more,' " he said.
For more information, visit http://wnyhomeless.org/agents-of-social-change/.
Tribune Editor Lauren Zaepfel contributed to this report.