United Way invests in programs to address generational poverty


TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) – According to United Way of the Wabash Valley Executive Director Richard Payonk, The Wabash Valley has a large ALICE population.

ALICE stands for a person who is Asset Limited, Income Constrained and Employed.

The United Way wants to bring 10,000 families out of poverty within the next 10 to 15 years.

“The count right now shows in our six counties, over 33,000 households live below that. That 10,000 was just a we’re not gonna solve it, we’re not gonna bring it to zero,” explained Payonk. “But what if we could lower it by a third?”

Since 2018 the non-profit has been working to create impact councils to address each of the root causes of generational poverty.

The first being a Success by 6 Impact Council with a focus on early childhood education.

“When children are involved in high quality early education experiences the family comes in and sees that,” said Success by 6 Council Co-Chair Natalie Pugh. “And then they learn that by modeling how to do those activities at home. So it’s helping that family learn how to educate their children at home.”

According to the United Way, In 2018 16% of Wabash Valley children ages birth to five were enrolled in high quality childcare early education programs.

The state average is 37%.

$100,000 in grant funding will be put toward training daycare staff who apply and qualify for the Success by 6 program.

“The initiative is to help give them support needed to increase levels. So it could be helping to get them training,” explained Pugh. “It could also be helping them to purchase materials.”

The Substance Abuse Disorders Council will use their $50,000 grant to train and hire 60 Peer Specialists who will help those on the road to recovery.

“Individuals in the community that are walking the path to recovery are actually helping others in the community,” said Substance Abuse Disorders Impact Council Co-Chair Jaymie Wood.

According to the United Way, peer support services have been shown to reduce symptoms and hospitalization readmission rates up to 56%.

And these peers could be placed anywhere there is a need.

“To have one in every community when somebody, especially in the emergency room when someone comes in and they’ve overdosed or they need some immediate guidance and some support,” said Wood.

In order for a community organization to become a part of these two impact councils, organization officials will have to fill out an application.

The first step in the application process is to write and send in a letter of intent to the United Way of the Wabash Valley, which is due September 25.

Those who would like to donate to the impact councils may explore different options at Terre Haute Chevrolet on August 29 at noon, where the United Way is set to give a presentation.

Officials hope to see generational poverty barriers begin to break down by January of 2020.

“When you live in those kind of circumstances, and even above the poverty level where you may be employed, you may be working hard but not quite getting by. Being in financial struggles,” said Payonk. “You sometimes can lose the hope that there is a way out.”

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