Fighting Poverty with Passion
Hello from Women with a Vision! My name is Julia, and I will be working as a Program Assistant during my 2015-2016 VISTA service year. My first responsibility in this role was to read all about our program offerings and familiarize myself with the history of our organization.
After those initial orientation days, I began attending events in the community that were relevant to the success of our programming. On August 5, I attended the Culturally Specific Services Program Institute for nonprofit recipients of a certain grant. Even though I had recently joined the WWAV team, I went to the conference to represent our organization and to learn about addressing culturally specific populations, which at WWAV includes (but is not limited to) marginalized women, the LGBTQ community, people of color, formerly incarcerated individuals, and sex workers.
The most meaningful session that I attended featured panelists talking about using faith-based communities as a method for addressing domestic violence. Thinking about how to present information in a religious setting such as a church provoked me to think differently about how a nonprofit can cater its services for a specific population. The session was reminiscent of a past program at WWAV that I read about, and I am excited to see what ideas for programming spark from other conferences I will attend in the future.
Another event that I attended that week was a rally in front of City Hall, hosted by STAND with Dignity, a grassroots organization of low-income residents and workers in New Orleans. The purpose of the rally was to demonstrate support for the living wage ordinance, a proposal that would raise the minimum living wage in New Orleans and require a week of paid sick leave for city-contracted workers. Following the rally, over thirty citizens testified at the City Hall hearing in favor of the heightened living wage, which will most greatly affect workers in the sanitation, security, and janitorial sectors. WWAV was especially interested in this passage because of its potential impact in reducing poverty in New Orleans.
One of my favorite parts about working with WWAV so far is how invested our organization members are in current events! As someone who reads the news every day, I like working in an environment where everyone is eager to talk about what is happening around the world. While WWAV is primarily geared towards public health and policy initiatives, our employees are constantly discussing overarching poverty issues in New Orleans that affect all of its residents, like housing.
Oftentimes it’s hard to keep up with an organization that seems to be going in so many different directions; one way to stay in touch with our work and our mission is to check out WWAV’s summer reading list of books that illustrate challenges our organization faces in serving our target populations.
If you’re interested in learning more about WWAV, please visit our website and Facebook page for our current programs and press releases. Also, stay tuned monthly to read more about my year at WWAV! 🙂