When you’ve been working toward something, whether it’s for a few months, a few years or your entire life, you celebrate your successes. That’s just what dozens of dedicated Washingtonians working to reduce poverty did the first week of June in Seatac — “came home” to each other to mark the milestones in their vital work and affirm their commitments to forward momentum.
For this homecoming event, attendees hailed from all across Washington and from three different statewide efforts, including the Poverty Reduction Work Group, its Steering Commitee, the Subcabinet on Intergenerational Poverty Reduction, the Legislative-Executive WorkFirst Poverty Reduction Oversight Task Force and other community partners.
“This is something I’ve wanted for so long,” said Juanita Maestas, co-chair of the Poverty Reduction Work Group Steering Committee, which began its formal work of dismantling poverty in 2018.
Maestas spoke to her decades-long effort to ensure that the systems designed to help people living in poverty actually include those same people at the policy and planning tables in order to help eliminate barriers to accessing systems so that everyone can thrive.
“It’s so good to see the people who have always been in your corner in person,” added Maestas. “I want my grandkids to know we made these changes for them, so they don’t have to go through what we went through.”
The homecoming was an opportunity for the people who developed and are implementing the Blueprint for a Just and Equitable Future: the 10-Year Plan to Dismantle Poverty in Washingtonto celebrate the progress made and strengthen bonds, foster collaboration and pave the way for more change throughout the state. To date, out of the plan’s 60 recommendations to dismantle poverty, six are completed, 36 are in progress and 18 will begin soon– not bad for having launched the plan in January 2021, in the middle of a global pandemic that only amplified the need to eliminate poverty and disparities in access to assistance.
Along with sharing a meal, guests had an opportunity to recognize each other’s deep commitment to the work of reducing poverty, honor those innovators in the work who have moved on, and collaborate on new ways to support innovation in reducing poverty. Paired with the celebration was a commitment and rededication to seeing the 10-Year Plan through.
“The day you stop working on this together is the day the plan will begin to collect dust,” cautioned Jilma Meneses, DSHS Secretary, chair of the Governor’s Subcabinet on Intergenerational Poverty Reduction and co-chair of the Legislative-Executive WorkFirst Poverty Reduction Oversight Task Force.
“We are going to leave out of here as one voice,” Drayton Jackson, co-chair of the Poverty Reduction Steering Committee, told attendees. “This work is hard but it is beautiful work.”
As the homecoming event ended, participants were invited to reflect on the collective power in the room and commit to continuing this beautiful work together.
Check out all the photos and read details of the event in their captions below.
This unique occasion brought together an exceptional and diverse group of individuals. Each playing a pivotal role in addressing the pressing issue of poverty reduction and its far-reaching impacts on our society. The event was more than just a dinner; it was a platform where understanding was nurtured, alliances were forged, and aspirations were shared. It was an opportunity for us to come together as a united front, combining our expertise, experiences, and perspectives to carry out the Blueprint for a Just & Equitable Future.
The work doesn’t end here. Commitments were made and will be kept. Stay tuned for more great things from this amazing group of people.
To learn more about the work or get involved, contact Alex Panagotacos, DSHS Director of Strategic Partnerships 360-763-2900 email@example.com.