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CONTRIBUTORS

The end to poverty starts with all of us

Robin Rohrbaugh
Community Progress Council

The word of the year for 2022 seemed to be "inflation" –– and less than a month into 2023, headlines of a looming recession are everywhere. It’s undeniable that these two topics are intertwined.

Our cost of living has soared. Food, gas, housing, childcare –– basic needs –– all increased in 2022. The prices at the pump neared, then passed, $5 a gallon. According to the USDA, the price of a carton of eggs surged by almost 50%. Families are paying nearly 11% more for baby food and formula, while childcare in 2022 was 70% higher than in 2019, according to Care.com.  

Although 42,000 people in York County live below the federal poverty guidelines, 150,000 of our neighbors live below the self-sufficiency standard, meaning they struggle each month to make ends meet and afford their basic needs without public or private assistance. The need is significant.

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Friends and Neighbors Homeless Advocate, Nick McMichael, on right, checking in on a person living in the woods ahead of the drastic drop in temperature this weekend in York on Friday Dec. 23, 2022.

The person did not want to go to a code blue shelter and had been living in the woods for a number of years. They did ask for a new tent.

Middle-income and working-class families are also at risk. A 2022 LendingClub report indicated that 67% of families who earn between $50,000 and $100,000 report living paycheck to paycheck. Fifty-two percent of those who earn less than $50,000 said they would not be able to pay an unexpected $400 expense.

Many people are, understandably, so focused on making it from one day to the next, paying the bills at hand, that the future seems out of reach.

But progress is possible.

Community Progress Council exists to connect people in York County to greater opportunity. Since 1965, we’ve helped low-income families break the cycle of crisis and move toward long-term economic self-sufficiency.

Moreover, Community Progress Council is the largest provider of services to low-income children under the age of 5 who are living in poverty in York County –– 6,705 children in 2021, and their families.

The need is great. But so is our opportunity for impact.

What makes Community Progress Council different?

Robin Rohrbaugh

When a person reaches out to Community Progress Council for help, they are connected first with a resource navigator. The resource navigator asks questions to address immediate needs, then connects the person with a coach to determine how our programs best align with the participant’s goals. Building a relationship through coaching ensures a long-term, person-centered approach. From here, the possibilities are endless.

Progress toward economic self-sufficiency requires comprehensive, integrated services. That’s why Community Progress Council programs work together to help families make progress on their path from poverty to economic independence.

Achieving economic self-sufficiency is different for each family. For some, this may mean finding affordable childcare or addressing transportation barriers so they can secure a job with a family-supporting wage. Others may need to develop a spending plan or improve their credit score to achieve their goal of homeownership. Community Progress Council supports families and individuals through early childhood education, housing and financial education, workforce development, nutrition, and coaching –– all in one agency.

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By walking alongside a participant, empowering them in the driver’s seat, and connecting them with supportive services to address multiple barriers, Community Progress Council coaches can develop a customized approach for each person. Through this coaching model, we see real, lasting progress for the families we serve.

In fact, families that work with Community Progress Council for intensive coaching over a period of 18 months have increased their household income by an average of $17,423. These outcomes have the power to interrupt generational poverty and change the lives of children and families in York County. 

Poverty impacts an entire community. In fact, we see poverty as a community problem –– with a community solution. As we recognize Poverty Awareness Month in January, we strongly believe that the end to poverty in York County starts with all of us.

I invite you to join us in our journey: Get to know our team members and programs, help us celebrate our hardworking participants working toward their goals and their futures, and support our ongoing work to build a stronger community. You can even connect with us for a building tour to learn more about what makes our coaching model unique.

And, as you learn more about our mission and impact, tell your friends. Tell your neighbors, church members, co-workers, and fellow volunteers about the opportunity to interrupt generational poverty in York County and move beyond emergency stopgaps.

Together, we can help families make progress – not just for a moment, but for life.

Robin Rohrbaugh is president/CEO ofCommunity Progress Council.