The Washington Times-Herald

March 29, 2014

Study finds community needs more, better paying jobs

By Mike Grant Times Herald
The Washington Times-Herald

---- — A Community Needs Assessment report by the United Way of Daviess County found a lot of things about the county. The 24-page document contains plenty of information but the down shot is that people who are struggling here don’t want another handout. They just want a hand up.

“We have a lot of people who want more and are willing to work for it if they get the opportunities they need,” said Brenda Sobecki with the United Way. “This study showed what people want for themselves what they dream to be.”

The study’s conclusion found that the thing separating people from reaching their dreams are a lack of jobs and that the jobs they can find are low paying. It found there is a need for more job skills training, and transportation to let them get to jobs services and continuing education. The study also concluded that many in the county find themselves needing more money to pay for education and everyday essentials such a food and housing.

“There were not a whole lot of surprises in the study,” said Sherry Davis with Connections, who was contracted to work on the study. “Much of what we found is similar to what we learned in a similar assessment in 2004. People are struggling with low pay and a lack of transportation and they want better housing.”

“In many ways the assessment confirmed a lot of the things we already knew,” said Sobecki. “I think the order of priorities has changed from ten years ago.”

One of those priorities appears to be transportation. “Transportation was an issue that came up repeatedly,” said Davis. “We have public transportation that seems to work throughout the week during the day, but the real weakness is on the weekend and evenings. We have jobs available in the community on the night shift and people can’t take them because they can’t get to and from work.”

The Community Needs Assessment was funded by grants from the Daviess County Community Foundation and the Indiana Association of United Ways. Local officials compiled the information. “We wanted to make sure this study touched all parts of this county,” said Sobecki. “In small communities we better understand poverty and its challenges. We know there are programs working every day for people struggling daily to have better lives.”

The 2004 Community Assessment report found that many people who needed help in Daviess County often did not know where to turn. It also found there were often overlapping and redundant services. That led to the creation of Connections, a stop place where people in trouble can turn for help. “We hope this assessment will produce something of an equivalent value to the community,” said Sobecki.

Currently the Needs Assessment report is in the process of being distributed and digested. “The United Way board is now looking at this and will use it to help determine a direction,” explained Sobecki. “This is one piece, another tool, in building a better community. Now we need to figure out how to move forward. Perhaps find a pathway for the working poor to move toward better lives.”

“We went out and got a food feel for what we, as a community, are needing,” added Davis. “Copies of this have been sent out to the mayor and a number of agencies. It quantifies many of our needs, and that will make it a good source as we seek grants to reach those goals. We’re also hoping the cities, towns, county and local agencies will use the information and consider ways to solve these problems.”

A limited number of the Community Needs Assessment reports have been published.

They are available through the United Way of Daviess County office. You can make a request by emailing uway1038@att.net or by calling the office at 812-254-1038.