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A Strong Move Forward
Sunday, November 9th, we made several important strides on various community concerns.
A strong group of DuPage United leaders gathered in Lombard. It was led solidly by co-chairs Maria Ibarra of the Downers Grove Society of Friends and Merle Erlich of Congregation Etz Chaim of DuPage County, Lombard. In a short amount of time, the group got a lot accomplished. The assembly was an opportunity to explain research that has been done on housing, transportation, mental health and workforce, issues that came out of community listening sessions over the spring and summer, and strategize with community leaders on important next steps.
Highlights from Sunday’s assembly:
• Career Connect candidate Zamar Boyd shared his journey from high school, struggling to find work beyond odds jobs, becoming frustrated and running into trouble with the law. Turning his life around, he struggled to find his path, and thanks to the work of DuPage United, he thinks he has found it in Career Connect. He started training just last week, and so far he’s found it incredible and fulfilling!
• Kees van de Klippe spoke from his experience as a manufacturer and the pressures businesses face. He thanked DuPage United for it’s unique work. He also sincerely hopes Career Connect will provide the skilled workforce that manufacturers like him need.
• DuPage United leaders spent several mornings riding on PACE buses and discovered a tremendous lack of adequate public transportation. Its limitations prevent the unemployed and underemployed from taking opportunities that would help them enter the middle class. Many people cannot participate in Career Connect program because they have no way to get there or return home. We plan to continue research, riding buses and seeing where we can have an impact on transportation.
• In the last 5 years, state funding for mental health services has been cut 71%. Over 24% of inmates in the DuPage County Jail are on medication for mental illness, making it the largest mental health facility in DuPage County. DuPage United could add to current efforts underway to address mental health resources by generating the political will to create better practices and funding sources to make the county an even more welcoming place to those with mental illness.
• Chairman Dan Cronin invited DuPage United to weigh in on a chance to repurpose the 40 acres of County Fairgrounds. In partnership with DuPage PADS, we submitted a proposal to the housing taskforce and are exploring new ways to increase affordable housing. Veterans, the mentally ill, homeless and working families could all beneficiaries of this work.
November 25th, 7PM, Leadership Meeting & Assembly Follow Up, location TBD
December, date TBD, Mental Health Strategy meeting
January 17-19th, Regional Metro IAF Introductory Leadership Training. Click here for flyer.
January 19th, Regional MLK Jr. Day Leadership Retreat, Location TBD
Questions? Contact your DuPage United team leader or Rachel Brooks, 703.955.6401, Rachel@dupageunited.org