Prairie Ridge is an area that seemed to have fallen through the cracks. Residents describe that their struggle may have stemmed from the fact that they are a divided district: there are no businesses, churches, or community centers in their area, and the students are served by three separate school districts. Drugs and violence were heavily prevalent as well. They didn’t feel as if they were important to the rest of the community, and it became a self-perpetuating mindset that moved them towards a cycle of poverty.
United Way of Pierce County’s Community Conversation for their area changed everything. It gave people that wanted to help make a change a place to connect, get involved, and help move their previous efforts to the next level of action. And even better, the Conversation got more of the community, that hadn’t been previously interested, involved in these changes as well.
After discovering what was needed the most in their area, United Way set the residents up with programs targeted toward meeting those needs. Low-cost preschool was brought to the area, and it was set up to be payable on a sliding scale so that all children would be able to attend. After-school programs were introduced so that kids get off the streets and have activities to be involved in.
The community members began to feel more empowered, a sense of ownership over their neighborhood, and a voice to direct themselves toward a better future.