ASHEVILLE – The responses of almost 50 residents in a United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County Community Conversations project have been published in a worldwide study on opportunity.
Between January and March, United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County held a series of community conversations in which everyday people from all walks of life talked about their aspirations for their communities, what gets in the way and what it will take to make real progress in the building blocks of a good life – Education, Income and Health. In our area, we specifically wanted to know what respondents think are the things that keep drop outs or unemployed young adults from having a chance at a good life.
The only United Way in the state to contribute to “Voices for the Common Good: The World Speaks Out on Opportunity,” United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County was one of only two smaller-sized communities from the participating 30 United Ways in 12 countries. The notes from the local conversations were sent to United Way Worldwide, where they were combined with responses from the other communities for the study.
“What struck me in the compilation of these conversations, is that around the world and around this country people want the same things – good paying jobs, good education and a healthy community. These are the three focus areas for United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County – Education, Income and Health,” said Ann Von Brock, vice president of planning and community investment with United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County. “They also appear in our county’s community health assessment and sustainability plan. It seems so obvious but so elusive!”
According to Von Brock, people say they feel that they are on their own, having to depend on themselves and fight for opportunities to have a fair chance at a good life, a critical element of which is having an education.
“Around the world, people expressed lack of confidence that any single institution, organization or government can fix the problems,” she said. “I see that sentiment as an opportunity to ask people – individuals - for solutions, rather than organizations...and even more importantly to ask individuals to step forward and participate.”
The study’s creators hope its findings will have many implications for United Ways and other organizations trying to create measurable, long-lasting change in their communities. To read the full report, visit unitedwayabc.org/report- community. While on the site, also check out what we are doing in education, particularly around Middle School Success, and our education blog.
“We believe these conversations are very important, and we will continue to conduct them in Buncombe County with various groups so we can learn from people about their concerns and dreams,” said David Bailey, President and CEO of United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County. “We have to figure out how to bring people together to hone in on the
things we agree on and make something happen. What happens to our neighbors matters to all of us, and we all have a stake in their success.”
United Way mobilizes people into collective action through Giving, Advocating and Volunteering in the areas of Education, Income and Health. We believe these are the building blocks of a good life for everyone. That’s what it means to LIVE UNITED! By making results-based investments in our community, we support long-lasting, measurable change in people’s lives right here in Asheville and Buncombe County. You can be part of the change. Join the movement at unitedwayabc.org.