The work of United Way Bay Area has always been about supporting communities. Ensuring individuals and families have equitable access to the tools and opportunities needed to thrive by bringing people together and fighting poverty collectively. While we have many programs addressing needs, we want to ensure we continue to go back to the community and include the voices that want to be heard in the conversation.
Between October and November 2022, UWBA began a series of live Town Hall events, hosted by members of our Board and Advisory Council who live and work locally. These forums were organized to bring together community members, elected officials, and local organizations to discuss the most pressing issues people are facing and how UWBA is working to address those needs. The first two events, held in San Francisco and Santa Clara Counties, two of the eight counties UWBA serves, provided the opportunity for presenters and panelists to speak to the unique needs of the locale, and celebrate the achievements of those who have made a positive impact in our community.
It was also a time to uplift the voices of UWBA Ambassadors, those with lived experience, whose perspectives help to shape and influence the ways in which we address the needs of our communities. Their stories serve as powerful reminders of all that can be accomplished when we ensure that our neighbors have equitable access to opportunity and inspire others to take steps toward ending the cycle of poverty.
The event was also a time to recognize elected officials who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and commitment to the community. Legislative Champion Awards, given to Senator Scott Wiener in San Francisco and Senator Dave Cortese in Santa Clara, acknowledged these individuals’ hard work and dedication, and we are grateful for their contributions.
Each of the individuals recognized has made a significant impact in our Bay Area community, and we are honored to be able to recognize their achievements.
Another key part of the Town Hall was of course the panel discussion, in which UWBA staff had the opportunity to engage directly with the audience on topics ranging from education to economic assistance and long-term systems change. Moderated by our own Vice President of Equity and Strategy, Sarah Brissenden-Smith, the panel provided a forum for guests to share their thoughts and ideas on important issues.
It was particularly inspiring to listen to guests as they shared their personal experiences and insights on the challenges they are facing and then go beyond the need of the moment to offer creative solutions for addressing these issues going forward.
Overall, a couple of key themes emerged consistently from the panel discussions:
The Town Hall events were a great success and we were thrilled to see so many community members in attendance. We are grateful for the support of our partners and sponsors, and we look forward to continuing to work together to make the Bay Area a better, more equitable place for all.
Town Hall events are planned to continue throughout the region in the new year. If you would like to get involved or partner with our organization or stay updated on future Town Hall events, please email Robert Cruz or follow us on social media for more information. Thank you for your support!