Diversity and Bullying Focus of United Way Initiatives

Greater Susquehanna Valley United Way’s Impact Council focused on Acceptance of Diversity in the Valley is hoping to bring a program into our communities called ‘Not in Our School’ for students of all ages. It’s a program to help develop and share innovative ways to resist bullying and promote an atmosphere of acceptance and inclusion. The Council, which consists of nearly 15 business and community leaders, is in the process of gathering information to see how the program could fit into our school districts.

The Diversity Impact Council is also working on creating a youth forum to discuss issues, real accounts and stories, and solutions to bullying and harassment. As part of that youth forum, the group hopes to develop an ongoing blog or community forum online where the community at large can be engaged and informed, and also participate in discussion groups surrounding the topic.

“While cultural experiences may shape our response to conflict, we are a stronger community when we work together,” says Elayne Sobel of the Central Susquehanna Mediation Center (CSVMC).   The CSVMC helps to build understanding by facilitating conversations to address both diversity and common ground – whether in neighbor disputes or within families,” Sobel adds.

Five United Way Impact Councils comprised of 80 members in total are meeting at least monthly currently in order to keep the group’s working momentum on the various projects under consideration. Councils are meeting to discuss solutions to six community-identified social issues in the Valley, called United Way’s Priorities For Impact. Those include: Acceptance of Diversity, Transportation, Early Childhood Education, Drug and Alcohol Abuse/Addiction, Poverty and At-risk Teens.

“It is my belief that all people are entitled to respect and fair treatment by others. Through my involvement with the Diversity Impact Council, I am committed to assist in making a positive change in the Susquehanna Valley," says Ricki Stringfellow, community volunteer and Impact Council member.

United Way has moved to investing funds and volunteer resources into Valley nonprofits that can measure the progress of their programs. These Priorities For Impact Councils will be United Way’s public face and voice to issues that profoundly affect quality of life for everyone in our communities. Impact Councils are supporting United Way’s efforts to identify and achieve the desired outcomes necessary to address the community’s most critical health and human service needs. Each Council addresses outcomes stated in United Way’s Community Goals, which represent a timeline for measurable change to occur around each issue.

For more information or to become involved in an Impact Council, please call Sara Lauver at (570)-988-0993 or email at slauver@gsvuw.org

(Information from Keri Albright)

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