The Moonjar Team recently spent the day with leaders in client services for the undeserved population in our region. The event was organized by The “Prosperity Agenda” www.theprosperityagenda.org .
The state of Washington is growing at an incredible rate and the economy is doing well yet we still have a growing number of residences living in poverty.
We heard from speakers ranging from a lawyer who explained the way an incarcerated youth can be crippled by the debt of detention forever. She spoke of a kid who owes $600,000 because he stole a game boy when he was 12. That debt he owes for his two years in a dentition center follows him forever. We also heard from a behavioral Scientist who shared that cognition is greatly affected by scarcity and poverty. The example was a farmer who was paid once a year when her crop came in; she was given the cognition tests just before she was paid and just after, the difference was amazing. The stress of poverty is debilitating. The cycle of poverty needs transformation attention and change. We need to change the way the story is heard and the access points for recovery need to be sooner and clearer for people slipping into poverty through an illness or loss of a job, or divorce or any life changing event.
As we listened to the small group discussions and brainstormed big "out of the box" ideas to help bring prosperity to all, we each heard through our own lens of our life circumstances and exposure but ultimately we were left again and again with the message of, LISTEN. We need to listen to the stories of the people we are trying to help so that we can understand where we can meet them rather than just showing up and suggesting a check list of what they should be doing. We were also reminded how very important our mission to serve the youngest members of our community is now and always. Reaching out to children as we do with Moonjar not only empowers the next generation but it helps the parents to gain a bit of control when everything feels like it is swirling out of control. The pride a mother feels when her child comes in talking about the goals he or she is setting in order to create a savings is also a relief and offers hope. The way a child’s words can open a parent’s mind was also a reminder of the importance of early financial literacy education.
We were challenged personally and inspired professionally as we shared thoughts around how to reach out into these communities. Financial Capability is possible and we can all join in the conversation about designing solutions that empower people to achieve economic security.
As a call to action, how about talking giving a Moonjar to a young family and talking to the child about what his or her goals might be in each category; Save Spend and Share?