from The Marion Chronicle Tribune
Documentary shares lessons that were learned
BY BARRY WILLIAM WALSH
A 10-month journey for Andrea Vermilion - during which she left her job at the Muncie PBS affiliate and spent hundreds of hours writing, editing film and recording narration for her documentary - ended Tuesday night, when she put the finishing touches onLeading the Way Out of Poverty.
"I felt like a huge load and burden had been lifted from me," Vermilion, a Marion resident, said.
The film, which will premiere at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Indiana Wesleyan's Globe Theatre, focuses on the problem of poverty, but presents it in a unique manner.
"I didn't want to make another bleeding heart documentary, and I think there's enough out there to tell communities that poverty is a problem," she said. "I wanted to find some hope, and share some ... lessons that I learned through the writing of the documentary."
To better express that hope, Vermilion's documentary focuses on the stories of people who have experienced poverty but have been able to overcome it and lead successful and fulfilling lives. Several community leaders in Grant County were featured in the film, including Marion Mayor Wayne Seybold, Jerry Pattengale, a history professor at IWU and assistant vice president for academic support, and Cathy Weatherspoon, assistant director of career development at Taylor University.
Even Vermilion, her mother and her daughters were featured in the film in an attempt to show what it takes to end generational poverty.
"For me, it was full circle that I was able to give my testimony of how faithful God has been in my life and how I was raised and the disadvantages I had growing up," Weatherspoon said. "It was just so important for me to show those that come from that same past that it is possible to pull themselves out of those barriers."
Weatherspoon grew up in a single-parent home, with four siblings in subsidized housing in Brunswick, Ga., and said that her success was not only her job, but also her family and the environment that her children are being raised in.
"What I want people to see is that I didn't forget where I came from, that I am still involved ... that I still have passions to help those who are involved in the same barriers that I was when I was growing up," Weatherspoon said.
The 90-minute film, which was produced by WIPB, the Muncie PBS affiliate, was paid for by a National Center for Outreach grant. Vermilion said she began to write the grant in early 2005, and found out in April that her proposal was one of 10 in the entire nation to get funding.
"The grant was for us to produce a local program and use it in conjunction with national PBS programming. We had to do outreach activities and events that would go along with it," Vermilion said.
Vermilion said she got the idea to take an in-depth look at poverty from the 2000 Chronicle-Tribuneseries "Moment of Truth." She said the desire only increased when she began to work at the Marion-Grant County YWCA and worked with teenage single mothers.
When she left to take a job with WIPB, she said she viewed the job as an opportunity to take a look at poverty on a larger scale.
Since she completed her first documentary, Vermilion already has plans for a second.
"I want to do (the second documentary) about poverty as well," she said. "I don't want to see us stop. I feel like we have momentum going and I'm looking for some grants and talking to some organizations and some other producers."