United Way of the Wabash Valley plans to lift 10,000 families out of poverty with impact councils

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Officials with the United Way of the Wabash Valley are putting out a new call to action, and they’re asking for help from the community.

The United Way wants to lift ten thousand families around the Wabash Valley out of poverty in the next ten to twenty years.

According to United Way, 40 percent of families in the Wabash Valley are being identified as ALICE, and 15 percent are food insecure.

ALICE stands for asset limited, income constrained, employed.

“It’s a representation of the struggling working poor. And the key word there is working,” said United Way of the Wabash Valley Director Richard Payonk, “ALICE kind of takes a measure of folks who have jobs but don’t earn enough to be where most of us would consider financially stable.”

Payonk says the current programs aren’t hitting the social issues that are contributing to generational poverty.

“So we’ve changed our format to bring together what we call impact councils,” he said. “Groups of expertise, including some of our former partners, as well as business people and government to focus on key issues like substance use disorder.”

The Substance Abuse Impact Council will be guided by Psychologist Jennifer Hutchens, and she says in order to tackle the cycle of substance abuse, compassion is required.

“That’s one of our goals, that destigmization in addition to prevention. And treatment and things of that nature,” said Hutchens. “And it’s a lofty goal, we’ve got a big hill to climb. We’ve got a big mountain to climb here.”

According to Hutchens, by taking away the negative stigma, patients are more likely to ask for help.

“You know language matters and we have all these things that talk about how language matters you know. And If I call you an addict that may be very shameful language you know for you,” she said. “However if I say that you’re suffering from addiction, it’s a little bit different.”

With outreach from these special impact councils, Payonk believes there will be less ALICE families in the Wabash Valley

“The reduction of substance abuse disorders will aid in breaking the cycle of poverty,” he said.

United Way is looking for volunteers to help lead these impact councils.

The non-profit has also extended it’s Annual Resource Drive to March 20th.

All proceeds from the drive will help fund impact councils, you may donate by clicking this link.

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