After any sort of turmoil, when danger and fear have passed, we realize it’s time to put the event behind us and move forward. For us as a community, after the past several years of economic tension, turmoil, uncertainty and emotional setbacks: It’s Time!
To kick-off the 2015-16 United Way Campaign, 100 percent of the board of directors has already pledged their financial support for the annual community campaign. Additionally, the board has set a campaign goal of $1,250,000 for this year’s drive because It’s Time to begin rebuilding people’s lives and reducing poverty here in Kitsap County. And your participation is needed to make this a reality.
In 2008, prior to the start of the campaign and the recession, Washington’s unemployment rate was 5.1 percent and Kitsap’s was 4.8 percent. Today, at the start of the campaign, Washington’s unemployment stands at 5.3 percent and Kitsap’s is 5.6 percent. While not quite as good as 2008, it is looking much more positive and It’s Time to once again start building toward a solid increase in the community campaign and rebuilding the resources to help the less fortunate in our midst.
It’s unfortunate that poverty rates continues to grow; in fact, it is approaching the levels of the 1960s. More families are receiving federal food assistance, visiting local food banks, seeking assistance for utilities, housing and other basic needs. The non-profit community in Kitsap County, including United Way, has trimmed staffs and budgets and made do, while continuing to find ways with fewer dollars to meet the increased needs of the poor. Unfortunately, more and more individuals, during this prolonged recession and slow recovery, have found it necessary to cut charitable giving. Who can blame them? Families come first! But now, more positive economic signs are telling us: It’s Time to rebuild and reenergize our safety net.
United Way has entered a unique partnership with other community resources in an effort to improve our service model to meet the needs of those in poverty: not just to give a hand out, but to give a hand up. You’ve heard the saying: “Give a family a fish and you feed them for a day; teach them to fish and you feed them for a lifetime.” But in the process of teaching people to fish, we also need to invest in helping them understand why and how they reached this low point in their lives.
That is why United Way is partnering with the Kitsap Community Foundation, the Suquamish Tribe, and the Gates Foundation to help fight the effects of Adverse Childhood Experiences – or ACE’s – and how they affect and prevent normal brain development. Our partnership, known as Kitsap Strong, has already been out front educating groups about ACE’s and the importance of building resiliency in children. It is helping parents and educators understand the effects ACE’s have on brain development and how that can determine why some individuals have a difficult time living their lives to the fullest.
Through this work we begin to understand the importance of ensuring that our children are ready to start school. Currently 40 percent of children entering kindergarten are not ready to learn. All children, whether they come from an affluent or a poor family, if they suffer from multiple ACE’s may not be ready to learn or succeed in school. And for poor children, being ready for kindergarten is their best tool to begin to break-out of the cycle of poverty.
That is why It’s Time to put the past behind us and be part of the movement to help the local non-profit community rebuild and fight the rise in poverty. That is why, when we say, “We can do more united than we ever can alone,” it is not just a cute and catchy tagline or motto. Every dollar you pledge to United Way, when combined with every other investment, helps secure a positive community outcome and the potential to teach a family how to fish. It is another dollar that helps us fight ACE’s and build a more resilient community.
Your help in raising $1,250,000 will help break the cycle of poverty. Education + Stability = A Better Life. It’s Time!
David Foote is executive director of United Way Kitsap