Recently we've had reason to write out some very specific summaries regarding who we are and what we do and what it takes to make that happen. We're trying to secure funding in order to keep up what we've started here. We thought we'd share them here so the community can better understand our plans and aspirations.
Our central and most important mission is to reunite the severed portions of the entire community, thus making each accountable for the other while simultaneously navigating within the system of protocols intended to assist the vulnerable. In place exists a system of protocols that operates in a absolute manner as far as how a community internally functions. This system was put into place atop the organic community system that in decades past has functioned without prompting. Now because of this the system put in place for the specific purpose of caring for the most vulnerable within a community has caused an even further schism in the population.
By bringing all the segments of a community together again and leading them through the system in place, as needed, while demonstrating how, if we hold one another accountable for the care and well-being of our community, we can be self-sustaining, self-caring, and create the community we wish we had. In the community we wish we had there are no hungry neighbors, no single mothers or fathers unable to pay for utilities or homes. The current vacancy rates in conjunction with raising costs and stagnant wages has created a perfect storm of need. People who cannot find solutions or support are leaving in droves. When all the people who depart from Western North Carolina mountain communities because they couldn't make it without the support of a strong community leave; what will remain? What kind of community will that become? Will it even be recognizable as Western North Carolina? Can we not stand up for each other and be there for each other instead? By bringing all the pieces of a community together makes it stronger.
We have found we can do this simply by asking. That's all it takes. We have so devolved from the community consciousness that we are not naturally aware of what is needed from us to make it better. So simply by asking a lawyer, grocer, builder, painter, etc. if they can help their neighbor with a thing, we have recreated the awareness of community and brought pieces together. That lawyer may have a client in need in another way and now asks the builder to help. We have also found that getting agencies working together and holding each other accountable goes a long way toward showing community members that their well-being is important. By forming strategies between agencies about how to handle individuals cooperatively we can have fewer incidences of loss (loss of dignity, financial loss, loss of time and resources, loss of life, etc). We've found that by having our case managers and directors speak with social workers and staff in various agencies and institutions that we have greater coordinated care and less waste of resources. Now we are working on reciprocal accountability between agencies on a regular basis.And so it goes. But, with all the distraction of technology and also the need to stay operating within the consumer-societal system this must be a guided system. A central processing unit for the community, if you will. Scale-able to suit any community. Anywhere. When the symptoms and pains of injustice, poverty, oppression, etc. are taken on by the many, with a common goal, the negative-impact on the community overall is less. And the reward is greater. This new system feeds itself. As every small success or positive connection is a reward and the energy and momentum of which is pushed forward into the next area of need.
Some of the largest stumbling blocks for our clients in the community are: complexity of paperwork for assistance, lack of awareness of resources, lack of practical technical knowledge, lack of a resume, professional attire or transportation to find work. and even being unaware of how to conduct a conversation about what their needs or problems really are - and for some these hurdles seem insurmountable when taken in stride with the current problems that these neighbors are facing at the time.
Paying a light bill for someone once does not help the next time it is due. But seeing that bill paid and assessing the personal situation to see where that bill can be paid from next time, and the rest of it too! We have found that sometimes a person finds they can begin to work for themselves doing handy-work, cleaning, teaching, organizing...if only they had a facebook page and knew how to use it. By talking to other members in the community we can find what products and services are needed, in the now, that a neighbor may be able utilize to fulfill and earn a living, or part of a living, which is more than they had before. With those small successes neighbors begin to feel energized and excited about helping someone themselves.
Obviously every situation is unique, but if every attempt at a solution comes from a place where the community is involved and taken into consideration then we can be assured positive progress will be made.
Our working board is made up of women in the community who have all, at one time or another, needed their community and served their community in a meaningful way. We each have a deep appreciation for strength in numbers. Together we work together learning about who needs what, when and why by being immersed and active in community conversations. We are receptive and encouraging to all our neighbors to reach out and let us know where we can help as well. We often hear of a person in need from social media based community groups. Local agencies such as Eblen Charities, Pisgah Legal Services, Council on Aging, Department of Social Services, Adult Protective Services and the Veterans Administration and even our local Fire Department often reach out and let us know of a neighbor who needs to know that their well-being is important.
We stay connected, in a meaningful way, to our neighbors by keeping them in the organic community system. In the beginning of the system it requires follow through and follow up procedures, then this becomes part of the responsibility of the community itself. Neighbors caring for each other, and letting each other know when someone needs something, each member now having the knowledge about resources and technology to more readily assist one another.
WNC Advocacy League has found partners in many local agencies and businesses.
Pisgah Legal Services and other local attorneys assist us in helping the community in the court system and also to fight social injustices, as well.
Eblen Charities often is able to help with emergency relocation costs for those who suddenly find themselves in unsafe housing situations.
Local mental health professionals are some of our biggest partners in ensuring non-public needs are met.
Adult Protective Services helps us ensure that our older neighbors needs are met.
The VA and DSS are allies in navigating the system of protocols already in place.
Manna Food Bank has graciously helped us with food donations for needy clients
Businesses in the community make wonderful strategic partners because they often will donate materials for wheelchair ramps, or other necessary supplies for making homes safe, and also through local corporate sponsorship and often even providing volunteers for particular jobs and cases.
We are applying for general operating support. WNCAL requires support in all areas as we are completely unfunded. There is currently no one within the non-profit who receives a salary and all funds raised are used directly in the community. With funding we could accomplish so much more at a greater rate. One of our more rural wheelchair accessibility projects has been in progress since March of 2015 because we keep running out of funds and this causes volunteer support to lag, especially for rural community members.
Due to the increase in clients we are helping we feel a great need to rent office space to have a central headquarters to see clients and have organization meetings as well as a stockpile of winter needs (blankets, space heaters, etc), clothing for community, food for distribution. We need tools and supplies for repair and accessibility projects. We need funding for administration and office supplies. We need fuel for volunteers and clients who require transportation to hospitals, job interviews and other appointments as well as for making deliveries of necessities for those in crisis. We also provide temporary financial assistance for personal emergencies, as these are often the end of the line for some as they cannot recover from a crisis without first becoming homeless or relocating. We also provide considerations and services for elders & the disabled to be able to age in place under the community system.
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