Reflections on the Together SC 2019 Nonprofit Summit
This week’s blog is written by Emily Miller, Executive Director, Children’s Advocacy Center of Spartanburg, Cherokee, & Union
The SC Nonprofit Summit is hosted by Together SC – the only organization focused solely on supporting and strengthening the state’s nonprofit community through education, advocacy, communications, collaboration and leadership. In March of 2019 nonprofit organizations across the state attended this summit in Greenville. This year’s summit had a variety of topics from marketing to financials to health equity.
Takeaway’s from the Summit
During a health equity conversation on day one of the Together SC Nonprofit Summit, a panelist spoke of a trip to West Africa where he learned a regional greeting of “How are the children?” asked before shaking hands or exchanging any other greeting. As the new director of Children’s Advocacy Center of Spartanburg, Cherokee, & Union (CAC), this focus on the well being of the children resonated with me.
What if we asked this question about the children in our community? In 2018, CAC served over 800 children, many of whom were sexually, physically, and/or emotionally abused, neglected, and/or exposed to violence. Thankfully, these children were identified and referred for services to help them heal, but we know many cases remain undetected or unreported. We also know, according to the 2018 Spartanburg Racial Equity Index, that over 17,000 children in Spartanburg county lived below the federal poverty level in 2016, with black and Hispanic children at significantly higher poverty rates than white non-Hispanic children. We know that abuse, neglect, and other types of adversity like poverty and racism can cause toxic stress that impacts children’s developing brains and bodies and can have long term effects lasting into adulthood.
Vu Le, the Summit’s keynote speaker, challenged nonprofits to move from being mission-driven to community-driven. He challenged us all to talk about racism and how systemic inequities connect with poverty. Perhaps for our community, the quality of life for all would improve if we keep our focus and priority on how all of the children are doing — children who have experienced or are at risk for abuse and other adversities, children living in poverty, children who may have given up hope. With a racial equity lens, let’s continue these community conversations and work collaboratively with a focus on the well being of all our children in mind.
Operating with a Health Equity Focus
The Mary Black Foundation believes that health and wellness are basic human rights. A health equity framework guides us in achieving our mission to invest in people and communities for improved health, wellness, and success in Spartanburg County. Health equity exists when all people have access to opportunities to thrive, both physically and mentally, and no one is limited in achieving health and wellness because of their race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, age, income, or zip code.