Strategies to disrupt the systems that support poverty can provide the scaffolding necessary to build thriving communities and economies. Being informed and influenced by the people most affected by poverty, while also building on the strengths in communities, increases the likelihood that such strategies will be successful.
Toward that end, this online member briefing will provide an overview of the recent formation of Governor Inslee’s Poverty Reduction Workgroup, and how it is elevating the expertise and influence of those most affected by poverty in its work. The briefing will highlight a recent three-day listening tour in the Yakima Valley, which was organized by the Yakima Valley Community Foundation and included an inspiring site visit with the amazing women of the Ttàwaxt Collaborative, a community-led effort working to build upon the strengths in the tribal and local community to assist in increasing support and services that impact the reduction of infant mortality in the region.
Children and families can reach their full potential and communities thrive when there is a foundation of resources and support beneath them. At a minimum, that foundation should allow Washingtonians to meet their most basic needs – adequate food, safe and stable housing, and supportive relationships. At its best, however, the system of opportunities in Washington state would build off that foundation to provide the bricks and mortar every Washingtonian needs to reach their full potential in life: high quality education and training throughout childhood into young adulthood, a well-paying job, strong social networks, and living in healthy, vibrant communities. When these resources are available, the benefits ripple throughout families and communities and build well-being across generations.
For too many Washingtonians these resources are not available, making it difficult to weather the life storms that can affect all of us – a layoff, the loss of a loved one, a sudden illness. Today, 1.9 million people across our state don’t have the income to pay for healthy food, safe homes, and warm clothing, let alone the access to things like high quality education, good jobs, and other essentials all Washingtonians need to reach our full potential – that is enough people to fill over 25 stadiums the size of Century Link field.
Lori Pfingst, Chief of Programs & Policy, Community Services Division, Economic Services Administration | DSHS
Jessica Houseman-Whitehawk, Program Officer, Health & Wellness, Yakima Valley Community Foundation