Wooden Bridge

Building bridges to cross the class divide

Strengthening lives and communities is one of the essential goals that drives Aeon’s efforts, and it requires our organization to form a deeper understanding of the families and individuals we are partnering with.

Bridges Out of Poverty

This past month, the entire Aeon staff met together to attend the Bridges Out of Poverty Workshop, an all-day training event based on the book by Ruby K. Payne and presented to our team by speaker Jodi Pfarr. It was a valuable experience that gave me, and the rest of the Aeon team, an understanding on how class affects us all and most importantly, the trials and tribulations many of our residents experience each day — not just despite, but sometimes because of our well-intentioned efforts to help.

With the knowledge and tools to more effectively connect with individuals from all economic backgrounds, I think we all left the workshop motivated to create better outcomes through our work with Aeon residents.

Aeon in many ways is setting the standard for affordable housing and you can see this in our homes.  We make quality a priority to change the perspective on what affordable homes can and should look like. We’re diligently working to show the world that “home changes everything.” Along with the high standards we set for each property, we go above and beyond to connect our mission and vision to strong outcomes.

That’s not to say, however, that we don’t have areas where our organization can improve, too.

Mental Models of Poverty

One of the key messages that stuck out to me during and after the workshop was the mental model for poverty, which refers to the internal picture of poverty that we formulate in our own heads and how this picture is shaped. The exercise taught me that individuals living in poverty are often relationship based, have a present focus and see problems as interlocking, versus the middle class who are achievement based, have a future focus and see problems as contained. Understanding the differences in these models helps me see how our organization can better serve individuals with the greatest barriers to home.

Going forward as an organization, we will examine how to build stronger cohesion between economic classes and develop relationships of mutual respect in our organization and the communities we serve.

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