VOICES: Mitigating generational poverty by building pathways to self-sufficiency

Omega Community Development Corporation is implementing innovative, best-practice services in partnership with families to build our community. We believe in equitable opportunities and are doing everything in our power to make a difference. We are also intentionally trying to build capacity of other organizations, faith-based institutions, families and youth to be change-agents in our community.

I am inspired by the stories of the families and children that we have the privilege of working with. To hear them share and reflect on the impact of our services in their lives motivates me to work even harder.

Last year, a participant overcame her fears and apprehension to visit the Hope Center to learn about its programs and services. She worked with the staff at Omega CDC to create a plan and set goals towards achieving self-sufficiency.

“Over this past year, you have watched and helped me grow into my better self,” she recently shared. “I have gone from a homeless, unemployed, single mother, to a version of me that I didn’t know existed anymore, and I can’t thank you enough for that. I have managed to get a job paying more than what I wanted, with better benefits than I wanted, I have my own home where my kids can be free and safe, I am still in school, and thanks to the Hope Center Financial literacy classes, I am building credit and budgeting for my family’s future.”

To me, community is a sense of belonging, where people feel “at home”, seen, heard and empowered to be the best version of themselves for the benefit of the whole. Every day, I have the privilege of building community with a dynamic team of change agents. Our whole team believes in our mission and works to build authentic relationships with the families and children who have trusted us to be a part of their lives. We hold and foster safe spaces to engage through opportunities like Parent Cafe sessions and Harambee celebrations at Freedom Schools.

Omega CDC is one of four new grantees beginning our Promise Neighborhood journey to strengthen and expand cradle-to-career services that increase positive outcomes for children and families. Over 44 organizations applied in 2022 and the Hope Zone is the first Promise Neighborhood to be awarded in the state of Ohio.

Motivated by the need to strengthen and sustain a measurably impactful system of change for 6,700 children and 3,400 families living in Northwest Dayton, the Hope Zone is an initiative that is premised in racial equity, informed by community engagement, and vitalized by continuous identification, assessment, and analyses of gaps and barriers to mitigate generational poverty.

Over the next five years, the Department of Education will invest almost $29 million in the Hope Zone. Over one-third of that funding will be disbursed to other community organizations delivering aligned services and supports.

We invite everyone to attend our community kickoff on Feb. 13 from 6 to 8 PM at Omega Baptist Church, 1821 Emerson Ave. in Dayton, where we will reveal these plans and celebrate this momentous occasion.

Rachel Ward is the Director of Operations & Strategic Initiatives for the Omega Community Development Corporation.

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