“Poverty hurts everyone. We share the same streets, the same air, schools, stores, roads, dreams and hopes, we are all part of the same community where people thrive and children can grow without hunger or fear.” – Joe Patrissi
North East Kingdom Community Action (NEKCA) is an anti-poverty agency. Believing in each individual’s potential for positive growth and change, NEKCA is committed to empowering those who seek assistance to improve the quality of their lives. We provide direct program activities, referrals, advocacy and education in a non-judgmental manner to the people of the communities in the Northeast Kingdom.
The Northeast Kingdom continues to have the deepest poverty in Vermont. Along with poverty, comes poor health outcomes. The Vermont Department of Health (VDH) ranks the fourteen counties in Vermont each year and two of the three counties in the Kingdom continuously score in last place. The 2011 VDH study correlates health outcomes to the level of poverty in a community. The take away from the study is the higher the income and education, the better the health outcomes.
Where We Are Headed
If we are to make inroads into the level of poverty that the Kingdom has experienced for many years, there needs to be a long term strategy that goes beyond helping people meet their immediate needs. The data from many studies indicate that if young children have aspirations to go on to become life-long learners and achievers, they can accomplish this through higher education or becoming an expert on a subject matter. This will help them make enough income to prevent living in poverty. To forge aspirations in young children, parents, teachers, and/or the community have to participate continuously in encouraging and reinforcing the idea that children can become anything they want to be in life as long as they work for it. They need to chase a dream and once they have locked onto one, they need to have help to access the resources to achieve it.
It’s difficult to chase a dream and forge aspirations if you are constantly fighting for your basic needs to be met. If the parents are constantly lurching from one crisis to the next, long term aspirations are hard to focus on. As we look ahead not to just 2016, but for the next decade, we will need to keep the basic programs going for those in financial and personal crisis but at the same time do everything we can to enlist our partners, parents, teachers, and community members to invest in our children and youth to work harder to strengthen our future.
They hold the promise of a tomorrow where we are a learning and growing community, where a Kingdom thrives that is prosperous and healthy.
The generosity of private sector and public sector community leaders have helped provide us with funding to help Vermont’s most needy families. It is wonderful to work in a community where so many leaders have compassion and understanding.
Our Accountable Health Community is committed to our shared goal to improve the health and well-being of the people of Caledonia and Southern Essex Counties, Vermont by integrating our efforts and services with an emphasis on reducing poverty in our region. Our community partners are the Vermont Foodbank, Northern Counties Health Care, Northeast Kingdom Community Action, RuralEdge, Northeast Kingdom Human Services, the Northeast Kingdom Council on Aging, and Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital. Our Data Partner is the Center for Rural Studies (CRS) at University of Vermont. They helped us create our goals, guide our use of shared measures, and track our success. They are experts in harnessing the power of data and helping us use it to attain our goals. These partners help choose and implement strategies, engage community members, and guide working groups.
As this group grows we are working towards creating a similar Collective Impact model that will include the northern counties of Vermont.
If you have an interested in joining one of these groups or finding out more information please contact Susan Ohlidal 802.748.8755.