Members of the four Cape Fear Area resiliency initiatives celebrate their joining the PACES Connection Cooperative of Communities and thank United Way - Cape Fear Area leadership for "leaning in" on the work being done to prevent and heal childhood trauma, and build on positive childhood experiences to create individual, family and community resilience.
The United Way-Cape Fear Area (UW-CFA) board of directors has voted to fund four North Carolina resiliency initiatives to join the PACEs Connection Cooperative of Communities.
“We wanted to find the best way to lean in on the work being done by the area's resiliency task forces, and this was cut and dried as to the best way to show our support for the work," said Tommy Taylor, executive director of the UW-CFA.
The four initiatives are Resilient Brunswick, Resilient Columbus, the New Hanover Resiliency Task Force and the Pender County Resiliency Task Force. Taylor, who has worked closely with each of the resiliency task forces, said supporting the organizations’ work to create more trauma-informed, healing centered communities aligns directly with the UW-CFA mission to leverage resources and improve the lives of local people.
“As a local, independently operated non-profit organization, we are uniquely positioned to neutrally assess the assets and needs of the people of the Cape Fear region, develop thoughtful solutions, and serve as a trusted steward of the resources and financial investments of the community,” he said.
“Each of these broad-based, cross-sector task forces is about preventing childhood trauma and its negative effects on long-term health. We want to heal trauma and create and build on positive childhood experiences in our communities so individuals, families, and communities themselves can grow in health, strength, and resilience. Their work to shine a light on ways racism and inequity hurt our communities, and to improve diversity, equity, inclusion, collaboration and opportunities, is work we believe in and are behind,” said Taylor.
Taylor was approached in early 2021 by the communities as they sought funding for a data tool that all four counties could use to measure their impact. Each community was also interested in access to the nationwide learning community hosted by PACEs Connection.
As members of the PACEs Connection Cooperative of communities, the four groups will join communities throughout the United States to help individuals and organizations learn best practices and develop policies to prevent re-traumatizing people already traumatized by the pandemic, systemic racism, poverty, environmental disasters and more. They will study what other communities are doing to eliminate systemic racism, poverty, and adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs. They may also share their best practices on those topics as well as, for example, how they are preparing to limit toxic stress in times of environmental traumas and natural disasters.
“We’ve watched the exemplary work being done in the Cape Fear area-—and all of North Carolina—with special interest, as these groups have worked collaboratively, and have terrific leadership throughout their communities,” said Jane Stevens, PACEs Connection founder and publisher.
“We believe counties coming into the Coop together as a region will have a synergistic effect on the work and outcomes in the area. The proof will be in the data collected in each county’s Community Resilience Tracker, one of the data tools used by Coop members. Through the Milestones questionnaires, each organization will answer questions about where they are on the path to becoming trauma-informed,” Stevens explained.
UW-CFA committed to fund the communities' Coop memberships for a year at a time for two years, with plans to help secure corporate funders for year three. Each year’s Coop membership costs $5,000, a price members of the New Hanover Resiliency Task Force Data Committee leadership said is “a real value.”
“This work is big — transformational on the scale of the internet, electricity, the iPhone, social media and the concept of love,” Stevens said of the Coop. “We’re moving from a world that by and large uses blame, shame and punishment to change human behavior — which has resulted in our burden of seemingly intractable health, economic and social problems — to one that uses understanding, nurturing and healing, which has been shown to solve our most intractable problems.”
Strong local support
In North Carolina, officials including county supervisors and the Cape Fear area’s two district attorneys, Jon David, whose district comprises Brunswick, Bladen and Columbus counties, and and Ben David, whose district comprises New Hanover and Pender counties, have voiced strong support for the task forces and the groups deepening their work with the tools offered by the Coop.
(Note: This is the first of several stories about the four counties in North Carolina’s Cape Fear Region, their relationship with the United Way of the Cape Fear Area, how their work is improving lives of people in the region, and the impact of their joining the PACEs Connection Cooperative of Communities.)