(Riverton, WY) – Fremont County School District #25 hosted a well-attended “Creative Thinking” session and reception on Thursday, April 21 at the Riverton Middle School Multipurpose Room.
The session was held in order to bring Riverton and Wind River agencies, organizations, non-profits, and service providers together to address the issue of poverty and learn more about Circles USA and United US, with the goal to systematically begin a community-wide effort in networking and collaborating services, resources and established contacts.
“As we’ve been walking down this road, this journey–we have found all these people who are doing all of these amazing things,” said FCSD #25 Superintendent Joanne Andre-Flanagan. “We want you to all meet each other. We’ve discovered there are a ton of services for our kids and our families in the community, but we don’t necessarily know who or what each other does, so one of our goals with the poverty alleviation system is to cross between the cycles.”
Terri Hays was hired by FCSD #25 as the Poverty Alleviation Systems Facilitator to create and manage the initiative. With 25 years of service with the State of Wyoming and 11 years under Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Hays has been collecting data from resources and visiting various agencies and organizations for the past three months.
“It’s amazing, the amount of resources we have that are out there,” Hays said. “How do we get to the point where we bring all of these resources together in one place for people to tap into? Maybe it’s a case manager, a school teacher, a parent…maybe it’s a student who just needs access to resources. We want to make sure to design something that is going to be accessible and easy to use for everybody.”
Lisa Ammons, Community Engagement Manager for Unite US, gave a presentation that delineated what the networking database would look like.
“A lot of us work in intervention,” Ammons said. “Let’s address those issues early. The school district is on the network now. That’s very powerful because this starts with kids’ needs. With the infrastructure this provides, there’s no cost for non-profits and safety-net organizations. If businesses want to get involved, they can get on board with a referral from you, from individuals…and understand that they’re a part of this whole initiative.”
“We want to educate employers; we want to educate businesses and organizations,” Hays said. “We want to educate non-profits. We want to educate anybody in our community to say ‘We are here to help people’, have us all come together and say this is all our issue. It’s not DMS’s issue. It’s not the school district’s issue, it’s not family services; it’s not specific agency issues. It’s all of us. Be concerned that this is really an issue we should address in our community and how we can all come together. We’re trying to teach our kids, but poverty is getting in the way.”
Circles USA gathers middle-income and high-income volunteers to support families in poverty.
Unite US is a coordinated care network that builds, scales, and tracks outcomes, identifies service gaps for at-risk populations, and empowers community members to take ownership of their health.
For more information, and to get on board with FCSD #25 and the local Circles USA initiative, contact Terri Hays, Poverty Alleviation Systems Facilitator at 307-851-2149 or e-mail: [email protected]