NEWARK – The United Way of Licking County unveiled the Community Blueprint on Saturday, giving a call to action to Licking County residents.
The 46-page blueprint is a culmination of a two-year study done by a number of collaborating agencies.
“The blueprints are a United Way tool that can be used in a number of ways,” said Deb Dingus, Executive Director of United Way of Licking County. “It identified the strengths and resources available to the county. And it also can identify the issues residents face.”
She said the report identified three main areas to focus on: behavioral health; children, youth and families; and poverty.
Dingus said the number one answer in each survey on the three issues was drugs and alcohol.
Co-chair Penny Sitler, executive director of Mental Health America of Licking County, said behavioral health is an all encompassing issue.
“The key to helping and fighting behavioral health is to educate yourself,” she said. “Be able to see the signs of mental illness and help people to get help.”
To combat issues facing children, youth and families, co-chair Teri Preasley said the county needs to see an increase in the availability for child care, focusing towards the outer areas of the county. She added that teaching how to have a healthy relationship will help as well.
Poverty co-chair Donna Gibson with MAHLC said the group has been emphasizing collaboration.
“There is no topic that is by itself,” she said. “We all go through each one of these.”
Gibson said that a way to fight poverty in the area is to increase the level of the workforce.
“We’ve got to work with the working poor,” she said. “We need to support them and help them find a career path to be successful. To do that we’ve got to fill the skill gap so they can move themselves up.”
After the event, Dingus said she thought the meeting went well.
“There were passionate people here talking about passionate issues,” she said. “We need more of them to answer the call to action.”
Dingus added there will be more meetings upcoming that are open to the public, and she encourages more community members to come to the forums and the events that the community blueprint hold to discuss the topics in more detail.
Found in The Newark Advocate March 12, 2016