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NEWS // June 26, 2015

South County Thriving Summit Tackles Community Well-Being

The South Region of San Diego County is home to approximately 473,000 residents, and is a highly diverse border region with a large proportion of economically disadvantaged residents. While middle and upper income communities exist within the region, many household income levels are generally lower than the County overall with half of south region households earning less than $45,000 a year.

On June 16, 2015, the County of San Diego’s Health and Human Services Agency South Region hosted the South County Thriving Summit, which focused on regional priorities aligning with the Live Well San Diego Thriving agenda. Topics included poverty, education, housing and employment – with a primary focus on identifying innovative “thriving” strategies to help lift families out of poverty. Nearly 75 community stakeholders and County staff attended the summit to brainstorm and collaborate to help make a difference in their community.

Director of the Health and Human Services Agency Central and South Regions, Barbara Jiménez, kicked off the summit with a warm welcome, thanking attendees for making a commitment to be actively engaged in the day’s proceedings. Jiménez introduced County Supervisor Greg Cox, recognizing him for being a dedicated supporter and champion of Live Well San Diego.

“Thriving is about helping people succeed in all areas of their life and that requires partnerships between government, stakeholders and the community – a key component of Live Well San Diego,” said Supervisor Cox. “Thriving really is focused on cultivating opportunities for all people and communities to grow, connect, and enjoy the highest quality of life.”

Agency Director, Nick Macchione, served as a dynamic moderator for the panel discussion. Macchione laid the foundation for why the summit was essential for the South Region, sharing key data facts that highlighted unemployment, high school education, and poverty levels in the South Region. The panel was made up of key organizations that address the thriving agenda in their work. The panel consisted of:

  • Kathryn Lembo, President/CEO, South Bay Community Services
  • Andy Hall, Vice President and Chief Program Officer, San Diego Workforce Partnership
  • José Cruz, Executive Director, Barrio Logan College Institute
  • Arnulfo Manriquez, President and CEO, MAAC Project

The panelists answered questions about working together to implement innovative and creative strategies that help families in South County lift themselves out of poverty and thrive. They also identified barriers organizations face that keep them from making life-changing breakthroughs in South County.

When asked to name one thing the panelists needed to help them move thriving efforts forward, their responses were as follows:

  1. San Diego Workforce Partnership: They need help bringing the services to where the residents/customers already are.
  2. Barrio Logan College Institute: They need opportunities for deeper conversations about partnerships.
  3. South Bay Community Services: They need partnering agencies that are not just about providing services, but those that address people’s most basic needs, and help create conditions for families to rise out of poverty.
  4. MAAC Project: They need help reducing the recidivism rate for DUI offenses in the South County.

Following the panel, attendees broke into interactive groups that addressed the four key areas from the thriving agenda: Built and Natural Environment, Enrichment, Prosperity, Economy and Education.  Participants offered innovative and strategic recommendations for how to positively influence the key focus areas identified at each table. A summary of the input from all breakout groups will be drafted and provided to the Live Well San Diego South Region Leadership.

Jiménez wrapped up the summit by sending out a call to action for the attendees, especially those who wish to remain involved in these efforts.

“The only way we will make positive lasting changes to the thriving efforts is through partnership and collaboration, the utilization of data to drive the need for change, and involvement of empowered residents who are able to advocate for changes that help lift them out of poverty.”

To get involved in the South Region Live Well San Diego Leadership team, call 619-521-7460.