In this week's vlog Bernie dives into the paradox "Poverty is Expensive," explaining the highlights from this week's YWCA Diversity Dialogue. Bernie shares research about how the Federal Poverty Level ($12,760 for one person or $26,200 for a family of four) only shows a small fraction of people struggling in our community. For get a better picture, check out ALICE (Asset Limited Income Constrained Employed) families at https://www.unitedwayallencounty.org/alice. To see what an average budget looks like for our community, check out https://www.epi.org/resources/budget/. To see upcoming YWCA Diversity Dialogues, check out https://ywcanein.com/diversity-dialogues.
Also check out the St. Joseph Community Health Foundation Vulnerable Populations Survey: https://sjchf.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/VPS_Selected_Findings_Report_FINAL.pdf
This is also the last week that we will have Steve Erick, our graphic design, multimedia specialist, and saying goodbye is going to be a challenge. Beyond his integral part in making my vlog happen, he is also a good friend. We all at NeighborLink, wish Steve the best and can't wait to see where he goes next!
This week I was able to attend the annual University of Saint Francis Servus Omnium Breakfast where the topic was "Business as a Force for Good." Dr Carolyn Y. Woo, former CEO of Catholic Relief Services and Dean of the University of Notre Dame's Mendoza School of Business, was the keynote speaker. One of her most salient points was that business - when done ethically- can create sustainable solutions to deal with community problems.
After all, work was not meant to be drudgery, instead it was meant to build a better world from each person using their unique gifts. In fact, Woo pointed out that all work has dignity and it can keep people from unsavory alternatives like gangs, drug running, and prostitution. As part of Catholic Relief Services, Woo worked to build viable businesses in rural countries, rather than just disbursing aid. Help people to help themselves. Help people see where they can take agency in their own lives. There aren't enough grants and non-profits to maintain initiatives forever, but businesses that focus on honoring workers and communities can create lasting change and justice.
I've seen this happen time and time again at NeighborLink. Businesses come to us seeking a way to give back and remember those in the community. Neighbors reach out with their needs and the supplies they can contribute toward their project. Then we connect those businesses or neighbors with those in need and things get a bit better. NeighborLink is meant to put itself out of business. We hope to weave the fabric of community so that people know neighbors who will help them in times of need.
Woo also mentioned in her talk that to run an ethical business requires a code of ethics, a way to report when things go wrong, consequences for those actions and leadership that follows the code of ethics. It not only matters that expectations are spelled out, they also have to be exampled by those in the organization. When businesses come out and serve together, it shows in a special way that the company is ordered toward being involved and beneficent to the community.
Taking on service and working to be more ethical is not always easy, but with the right motivation things become easier:
"What does the best version of you look like?" asked Woo, encouraging people to think of the character they aspire to have whenever they are making an ethical choice. She emphasized that values, action and character are all related: values drive actions, actions form habits and habits create character. But, sometimes choosing to do the right thing can require people to leave their job, so, as Woo put it, "have savings."
It has been a gift to have opportunities to learn from people like Dr. Woo and see how NeighborLink works into building a better world and encouraging people to serve others.