ASHEVILLE – United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County has released a report “Voices for the Common Good: Asheville Speaks Out on Education, Income and Health,” shedding light on the challenges people see in our community and the solutions they believe will address them.
United Way developed the report after conducting 42 Community Conversations with 326 Buncombe County participants between 2010 and 2012. People were asked what kind of community they want to live in, what it means to have a good life, what gets in the way of having the kind of community they want, what can be done to address those obstacles and who do they trust to take action.
“Four themes emerged from a wide variety of perspectives,” said Ann Von Brock, vice president of planning and community investment. “We invited people representing different backgrounds, ages, genders, races and ethnicity and incomes. Yet, in spite of the different points of view represented, people were united in their desire for a community that is Healthy, Harmonious, Thriving and Vibrant.”
These four themes are defined as:
• Healthy - People have physical safety, access to the outdoors, primary and mental healthcare, good food and a
• Harmonious - People get along with everyone, respect differences and support each other
• Thriving - People meet their basic needs, secure good paying and interesting jobs, have quality education and
everyone is on a level playing field
• Vibrant - People appreciate the variety, energy and enthusiasm of their community and want leaders who work
together to protect what the community has and plan for the future.
Von Brock says United Way will use this information to clarify the results it looks to invest in each year in the areas of Education, Income and Health as well as sharpen its focus through its Middle School Success initiative to create success-ready 9th graders. In addition, the report will serve as a tool to promote its Hands On Asheville-Buncombe volunteer center as a way for people to give back to the community. It will also help United Way recruit and support new community leaders and work with new partners to creatively tackle issues.
“Community Conversations are a way to look outside the confines of a single nonprofit organization and learn more about what people care about and what they want to see happen,” Von Brock said.
”As United Way continues its focus on Education, Income and Health as the building blocks of a good life, we want to understand what is important to people and how we can work with individuals and public and private entities to advance the common good.”
“This report is for those who care about the people who live and work here,” said Suzanne DeFerie, Chair of the United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County Board of Directors. “It is for those who want to make their community a wonderful place for everyone to live, work, play, raise a family and grow old.”
To read the full report, go to unitedwayabc.org/community-conversations.