Erie Together earns Community Engagement Award

Alexandria Albano, Staff writer

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The Community Action Council of Pennsylvania, or CAAP, is awarding Erie Together, a community movement with various members within the community, the Community Engagement Award for their efforts and hard work.

The award will be presented on Thursday, April 21 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

“Erie Together is a community movement; not an own organization. It is a collaborated group of people, Mercyhurst University, United Way, and Greater Erie Community Action Committee (GECAC). Work is done by hundreds of volunteers as well,” Nicole Wethli, assistant facilitator of the movement, said.

This movement is a response to research done in 2007 and 2008 by the Erie Foundation’s Poverty Work Group on how much poverty has an impact on this community.

Two members of this movement who work for Mercyhurst University are Laura Lewis and Nicole Wethli. Lewis was also a member of the original team for the studies in 2007.

Members focus on three key areas: Learn, Work, and Thrive.

The Learn section focuses on kindergarten readiness and provides for parents of young children parent training kits.

The Work section deals with aspects such as better connections among educational institutions, businesses and other groups. Erie Together also helps people coming out of prison with transportation, housing and training to help them attain secure employment.

Lastly, Thrive focuses on helping families gain better knowledge of their situations and progress forward.

Lewis and Wethli both gave details about this movement and why the public should be more aware of it. They also emphasize that anyone is welcome to join.

“The more individuals and organizations work together outside of their silos, collaboratively with other sectors, the more likely that mutually agreed upon, community determined goals, that enhance opportunity for all, will be achieved. The whole community will benefit. Erie Together is not a social service and it is not an organization. It is people from diverse sectors and backgrounds who are working to improve our community. Erie Together is a community driven initiative and welcomes participation from all community members,” Lewis said.

“The next meetings will be on April 26 and 27. The meeting on April 26 will be on the Work section and the 27th will be on the Thrive section,” Wethli said. To find more information, people can go to www.erietogether.org

Wethli, Mary Bualo, who works for United Way and other affiliates will be there to receive the award. Lewis will be unable to attend the ceremony, but said she is very happy the award is being given to Erie Together.
“It is exciting for Erie Together to get this recognition. It is recognition for the many Erie Together volunteers, from many different sectors, who are the heart of Erie Together. If not for community members being willing to spend time and energy working to reach positive outcomes in the learn, work, and thrive areas there would be no Erie Together,” Lewis said.

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