By Karina Ware
The Cornerstone Project
The Cornerstone project is designed to reduce and work towards the elimination of poverty in Lamoille County using the philosophy and knowledge gained through the “Bridges out of Poverty” movement. This project is a critical component of the New Foundations (transitional housing) program because of the pivotal role it plays in providing a vehicle for moving people out of poverty and into self-sufficiency. The program is done in groups and is designed to benefit the entire community.
According to the 2010 U.S. Census, 12.7% of Lamoille County residents live below the poverty level. (quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/50/50015.html). This is higher than the state average of 11.3%. Despite the best efforts of many in the community, poverty is at an all-time high in Lamoille County. United Way feels it is time to try some new approaches.
A project like “Cornerstone” has been discussed in our community for many years and is being incorporated now as a part of United Way’s move-to-impact process.
On a broad level, United Way is committed to providing leadership for programs which guide people to economic self-sufficiency. As part of the plan to ensure our New Foundations program is successful, support from the community is needed.
How Does The Program Work?
Two sets of community volunteers will work towards the goal of reducing poverty at the same time:
The first group is comprised of people who are living in poverty. This group will investigate the reasons they are in poverty and will work to improve their financial situation and quality of life by learning what it takes to become self-sufficient. Participants in the New Foundations program and veterans will be given priority placement in this group.
The second group is made up of community members who are not experiencing poverty themselves (although they may have in the past) and who have an interest in, and passion for, reducing poverty in our community.
United Way will work closely with RSVP and the Volunteer Center to recruit and coordinate the volunteer participants in both groups.
When and Where will this all take place?
United Way will launch this project right away. Trainings will take place at a location in the community that is easy to access. In order to accommodate work schedules, trainings will be held in the evenings and weekend mornings. United Way staff has received all the training necessary to make this program successful.
United Way’s goal is to hold the first orientation in late February. At this training, each group will learn what the time commitment and expectations are. After the initial orientation, there will be a series of trainings for each group held once a week for 8 to 10 weeks.
Towards the end of the trainings, there will be several potluck dinners scheduled so both groups can meet and have a chance to get to know each other. The support and solutions for the community and the individuals experiencing poverty will eventually be discussed to turn ideas into action.
For more information or to get involved in this program, please call Karina or Dawn at 888-3252.