Leaning In Report Released By Poverty Round Table HPE.
United Way Hastings & Prince Edward is committed to implementing Community Impact work in a three pronged approach called AIM (Advocate, Invest and Mobilize). We have a responsibility to not only fund agencies but to work alongside them, as full contributing partners, to achieve outcomes that move the needle on issues that affect our community. The Poverty Roundtable’s mandate aligns with the AIM approach extremely well, and we are very happy to be a coauthor on their recent report.
Leaning In, the first in a series of reports produced by the Poverty Roundtable HPE, captures the essence of poverty by the people who experience it in Hastings and Prince Edward Counties. The PRT knew that in order to create a sustainable, realistic plan to reduce poverty, or even eradicate it in our communities, we needed to invest the time to better understand how it is experienced by the people who live it. We needed to know what the daily impacts are of poverty, what caused it, what perpetuates it, how it people survive it from one day to the next and what people who live in poverty want others to know. The only way to do that was to talk directly to people; so we did. We met with people individually, in small groups, at community events, at agencies, and we talked and we learned.
Brandi Hodge, United Way HPE’s Director of Community Engagement is an active member of the Steering Committee for the Poverty Roundtable HPE, and a coauthor on the Leaning In report. Brandi participated in some of those conversations, recording the experiences that people who live in poverty have. She then collaborated with Christine Durant, Director of the Poverty Roundtable, and others in the community, on the creation of the Leaning In report. The report is full of facts and stories and is a tremendous resource to intimately understand the impacts of poverty locally. During the process of analyzing the conversations trends and patterns emerged in the data; those that humanized the lack of opportunity and the lack of access to the very basic needs in life for people who were struggling to make ends meet. The data tells a story, not only of the impacts but of the causes of poverty, which dispel the stereotypes and biases a community can have around those who live in poverty. It teaches us that trauma is often the precipice that leads us into poverty, and very few in a community are immune to the financial implications of trauma – disease, disability, divorce, abuse, grief, illness – that leads to a dependence on a social safety net that, thru design, rules and regulations can often perpetuate dependency. For Brandi, the message she heard the loudest and one that is so very fixable – was that of an intense desire to belong. A basic need that we all have; to belong, to feel valued, and to contribute to the community we live in.