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January 15, 2005

Contact Bill Reese at 796-3708 or


LA CROSSE, Wis. -- A prominent Los Angeles Baptist minister who has helped countless people struggling with poverty and a singer, writer, and activist-educator are the keynote presenters at the “Poverty and Children - It's About All of Us” Humanities Symposium at Viterbo University Jan. 30-Feb 1.

The inspirational Dr. Johnny Baylor has served as the director and chaplain of the Union Rescue Mission in downtown Los Angeles and as a chaplain at the Los Angeles County Jail. He is also an adjunct professor at Calvary Chapel Bible College and the organizer of the Mercy Community Development Center.

Julia Dinsmore is a singer, songwriter, recording artist, published writer, storyteller, humorist, and life-long activist-educator regarding issues related to poverty in America. A single mother of three and grandmother of two, Dinsmore has been in and out of the welfare system most of her life. Her art is heavily influenced by her personal experience with poverty and homelessness.
“Poverty is not just a problem for people who have a low income or are on welfare - it's about all of us,” said Dr. Bill Reese, Viterbo religious studies professor and symposium committee chairperson. “We all need to do what we can to alleviate poverty.”
Dinsmore will speak at 7 p.m., Monday, Jan. 31 in the Fine Arts Center Main Theatre. Baylor will close the symposium with his presentation the following day (Tuesday, Feb. 1) at 7 p.m. in the Fine Arts Center Main Theatre. Baylor and Dinsmore join La Crosse Mayor John Medinger and many other presenters at the symposium in an attempt to find answers to questions such as: Who are the impoverished children of our region? What is being done for them? What can we do - what should we do - to help them?
“We don't want to just talk about poverty and children; we want to do something about it,” said Reese in explaining the goal behind this year's symposium topic.
Highlights of the symposium include:

Sunday, Jan. 30
“Concert for Hunger”
7 p.m. in the Fine Arts Center Main Theatre, with Dr. Earl Madary, Chelsea Bassett, and special musical guests. A food donation is requested for admission.

Monday, Jan. 31
“A Perspective on Urban and Rural Poverty in Our Area” 9 a.m.-noon in the Fine Arts Center Main Theatre, with La Crosse Mayor John Medinger, Coulee CAP Director Grace Jones, and other local politicians and social service personnel. “Panel Discussion” with the morning speakers, 1-2 p.m. in the Reinhart Center Board Room. “Video Presentations/Discussions” 2-4 p.m. in Reinhart Center 127. “A Voice from the Underclass: An Evening of Poetry, Songs, and Stories of Struggle and Hope,” keynote address by Julia Dinsmore, 7 p.m. in the Fine Arts Center Main Theatre.

Tuesday, Feb. 1
“Hunger and Poverty Summit/Town Hall Meeting” 9 a.m.-noon in the Fine Arts Center Lobby. Over 12 agencies and organizations in the area will present their current outreach programs and ministries. The shared information will be used in the afternoon session to develop awareness, strategies, and activism for the poor, homeless, and hungry children, women, men, and families. “Strategies for Change - Open Forum” 1-2:30 p.m. in the Reinhart Center Board Room. “Jesus Loves the Children - With Our Hands, Our Hearts, Our Lives” keynote address by Dr. Johnny Baylor, 7 p.m. in the Fine Arts Center Main Theatre.

 A no-cost soup luncheon will be held from noon-12:45 p.m. Monday, Jan. 31 and Tuesday, Feb. 1 in the Reinhart Center Board Room. All events are free and open to the public. The symposium is sponsored by the Viterbo University School of Letters and Sciences with additional funding provided by La Crosse area businesses and social agencies.

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