From our first community meeting in March 2006, we knew we were on to something. Over 750 Athenians filled the auditorium at Cedar Shoals that night.
Each month, and many times in between, this community kept coming back. Together, we identified the underlying causes of poverty in Athens. Together, we drafted 155 PPA recommendations to address those causes. Together, we owned the problems and believed we could do something about them.
We put our faith in the PPA Steering Committee and confirmed a set of OneAthens Initiatives presented to over 1300 Athenians at our March 2007 community meeting. Again, we knew we were on to something special.
In 2007, the meetings continued at an even quicker pace. Over 200 Athenians formed 11 Teams one for each Initiative, and held public meetings to lay out action steps that could disrupt the cycle of poverty forever.
The OneAthens Initiative strategies fall into four critical areas:
- Create Jobs and Career Readiness
- Build Community Infrastructure
- Promote Health and Wellness
- Increase Capacity and Accessibility of Needed Services
The strategies demand commitment and resources from Athens' major institutions as well as its residents. All of us will decide how to act on our values. Our return on investment will be measured in more than dollars; it will be evidenced by renewed hope and a sense of potential for our collective future. When the people of Athens and the six Co-Conveners of PPA/OneAthens implement the recommendations, a critical step will be taken to break the cycle of poverty.
Since the beginning our vision has been to unite the community in identifying and removing barriers to breaking the cycle of poverty. We value collaboration, transparency, inclusiveness, and above all, action.
It is time to renew our commitment to this vision and move forward to implement the comprehensive strategies that have come from the community.
One Community. One Vision. OneAthens.
Steve Jones and Red Petrovs