COEUR d'ALENE - Andrea Surace is on a mission to educate the community about better ways to handle poverty and lift people from the bottom of society.
Her interactive and free "Poverty Alleviation and Community Development" seminar, which takes place from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Thursday in the Coeur d'Alene Assembly Church, will discuss how to empower people, communities and countries while examining what has and has not worked when it comes to ending poverty.
"The main point is to generate a dialogue between people in the community," said Surace, of Coeur d'Alene. "It's going to be watching the video and then getting people together to talk about their experiences."
Surace, who has spent much of her career working for nonprofit organizations, said she has conducted extensive research on the subject and came to understand that the way the world has been treating poverty has actually led to stagnation and even impeded progress. The concept of social entrepreneurship, however, gives people the tools and skills to work and prosper.
"Businesses do a ton for the community. They provide jobs, they provide training," Surace said. "It would be great if businesses were more socially focused."
The seminar will also feature research accumulated by PovertyCure, an international network of organizations and people that seeks to battle poverty through understanding the human person and society while encouraging solutions that foster entrepreneurial opportunities.
The PovertyCure video on the seminar's website, http://bit.ly/1IgXufq, includes interviews from world leaders and people who have been affected by poverty, and have experienced the social entrepreneurship approach to the problem. One speaker was Juan Jose Daboub, the former minister of finance for El Salvador.
"The reason you want to open up the economy is so that people have the opportunity of taking destiny into their own hands," Daboub said. "You can reduce poverty by creating opportunity."
Surace's first seminar will include two parts - Session I: "Charity That Hurts" and Session II: "The Entrepreneurial Calling."
Session I will include testimonies of professionals involved with poverty alleviation. Session II is described on the website as: "When we see people as made in the image of God, capable of creating and generating prosperity, it changes the way we work with the poor. In this session we look at how entrepreneurs are changing their countries by creating jobs and developing their communities."
Surace said she is hoping to establish a monthly session where people can make connections and talk about alternative ways to establish social entrepreneurship here in the Northwest.
"It's not a lecture series," she said. "It's definitely a time to interact with each other and dialogue and be able to ask questions, but also be able to find out what other people are doing.
"The more that we know what's going on, the more we can work together," she continued. "We can't work alone anymore. We can't work in silos. We have to be working together."
The Coeur d'Alene Assembly Church is located at 2200 N. Seventh St. in Coeur d'Alene.