Americorps VISTA is a federal program, founded in 1965, which specifically aims to reduce poverty in the US. Its members, such as myself, are tasked with initiatives to not only relieve the symptoms of being poor but also finding ways to help Americans develop economic stability and stay self-sufficient. Many residents of Western New York know all too well the struggles of simply trying to survive and I am privileged to serve as a conduit between the two organizations and this community.
For the next year, I will be working with CCNY to help improve the resource pool, design, and reach of an app called Arounja, which allows people to search for resources that alleviate poverty within a given radius. I will also be developing training documentation and sessions to help resource-seekers and providers alike use Arounja effectively. It is an exciting project that will allow me to put my data mining and organizational skills to good use as well as work directly with a wide range of end-users.
Poverty is a huge problem in Erie County –where CCNY is based- and unfortunately on the rise again. Our organization takes a unique approach to improving health because we believe that you cannot fully address public health concerns without tackling endemic poverty. To that effect, the more resources I find and that you as an engaged community member contribute, the better our app will become. As these improvements take shape, more people will seek out Arounja for their immediate needs, be they food, domestic violence, education, healthcare, or recreation. This ultimately translates as more people being helped and the labor and aspirations of healthy, happy people are what drive a thriving community. With your support, we can make Arounja a catalyst for positive change in Western New York.