There’s an old, familiar proverb: “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” When it comes to poverty, that proverb has a dire—and often literal—meaning.
As you read this, 18 percent of households in Jackson County are stuck in poverty. Another 23 percent may skirt the federal definition of poverty, but they remain one car repair or one unexpected illness away. All told, 25,000 households in our county are either in poverty or one step away.
We believe it’s time for a new vision in Jackson County.
United Way and a coalition of local nonprofits and community leaders spent months looking at data, notably the 2014 ALICE Report, and talking with scores of people who struggle financially. Our idea was to better understand the unique challenges faced by people in economic distress.
The result is a shared commitment to helping people in need become financially stable. It begins with a new vision for Jackson County:
We will be a community rich in opportunities to eliminate poverty and allow all people to achieve financial stability and success.
What does this mean?
“Rich in opportunities” reflects our commitment to address the many issues and factors that contribute to poverty—from job skills to adequate transportation, from child care to household budgeting, from education supports to accessible medical care, and many more.
“Eliminate poverty” stands for our firm belief that no one should struggle to feed their families, secure shelter and make a living.
“Allow all people” means just that—all people, regardless of circumstances, regardless of race or gender or sexual orientation or economic status or disability. Every person should have the opportunity to build a meaningful life.
“Achieve financial stability and success” recognizes that many people aren’t in poverty yet still struggle to make ends meet. We will strive together so that no one is left behind.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll use this blog to dive deeper into what this vision means and how United Way and the coalition are moving our community toward that vision—a community where no one perishes from poverty.
Meanwhile, what do you think of the vision? Drop me a note (firstname.lastname@example.org), give me a call (517-784-0511) or share your thoughts on Facebook.