MAYVILLE – Local faith communities are partnering with Chautauqua Tapestry and county government in an effort to lift local residents out of poverty through an initiative called Open Table.
According to organizers, the Open Table model was first introduced in Chautauqua County in 2011 and has impacted six local residents who have been served by tables started by 10 local churches.
Chautauqua County is one of only three nationwide communities awarded funds through a federal System of Care (SOC) grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to partner with Open Table.
The program is designed to educate and train church members to guide the homeless and families in poverty back into the community by changing their circumstances while accessing the “intellectual and social capital” available within a congregation. A group of volunteers compose a “table” and commit an hour a week for a year to help the youth, individual, or family to meet goals that they have established in a document called a life plan.
An Open Table Exploration event took place this past Saturday in Bemus Point, with local participants discussing their experience and providing information to others who were interested in participating in the program.
Open Table launched in Arizona in 2006 and is now operating in almost 20 states with plans for ongoing national expansion. More information on the Open Table model is also available at www.theopentable.org.
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