VIEWPOINT: Be part of the solution in GF/EGF
GRAND FORKS - We touched a nerve. Now, we hope you'll step forward to help find a solution. In the recently released report, Making Ends Meet in the Grand Forks-East Grand Forks Metro Area, (commissioned by Northern Valley Nonprofit Organizations...
GRAND FORKS - We touched a nerve. Now, we hope you'll step forward to help find a solution. In the recently released report, Making Ends Meet in the Grand Forks-East Grand Forks Metro Area, (commissioned by Northern Valley Nonprofit Organizations), it was documented that many working families are slipping economically in our area.
Even though there are many "help wanted" signs at restaurants and other businesses that pay above the minimum wage, unfortunately they cannot offer the wages needed to reasonably support a family. Also, many "good jobs" in our community do not come with a benefit package that includes full family health coverage or employer contributions to retirement.
The Herald's Nov. 4 editorial rightly states that we took care not to offer a laundry list of proposals for policymakers to embrace ("State of the city: Resolving two views," Page 4A). While we may not be able to solve the big national issues faced by residents in our area, we do think that our community can come up with solutions to some of the local problems, and we're asking people to come together to help prioritize and begin the discussions that will ultimately lead to solutions.
We invite everyone to attend the "Community Brainstorming, Dessert & Discussion: Making Ends Meet in Grand Forks and East Grand Forks," tomorrow (Thursday) from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the Herald's Community Room.
Want to attend, but lack a Baby sitter? We've got you covered! The Y Family Center is offering free child care so people with young children can take part. Call (701) 775-2586 to reserve your spot and so the Y can prepare for your children's care.
Teresa Morrow of the Bremer Financial Corp. in the Twin Cities will facilitate the discussion, which needs to include the voices of people who know firsthand about the challenges in our community.
The only way to solve problems is to face them squarely, talk about them openly and then get to work. The economic reality is that local families see steady cost increases at the gas pump, checkout line and doctor's office but not corresponding bumps to their take-home pay.
When Carenlee Barkdull, the study's author, and I were on Mike McNamara's KNOX-AM radio show, one listener after another called in to say that we were describing their lives. I remember one caller who said that while she and her family lived in a nice trailer park, she doubted that her family would ever be able to afford a regular home.
Another caller said that no one would ever suspect how precarious her family's finances are. She said she dressed well, has a job and a car, but she and her family have no way to set aside money for the kids' college costs or for their own retirement. The basics eat up her disposable income.
These are not slackers; they are hardworking people. Very hardworking. And what kind of family life can people have when one or both parents work more than one job just to stay afloat?
We can do better!
No one is to "blame" for the current challenges, but we hope you will become part of the solution and join us for coffee, dessert and discussions on how we can make our community a great place for everyone to live and work.
A full copy of the report can be found at:
Berger is president of United Way of Grand Forks, East Grand Forks & Area.