Annual Report 2016 - Page 20

QUALITY OF LIFE LEAD TEAM QUALITY OF LIFE Vision Before 2030, Polk County will have a quality of life that encourages diverse backgrounds to live in harmony while developing physically, spiritually, mentally and culturally within a healthy and safe environment. Marcia Andresen, Polk County BoCC Jeff Bachelder, Warner University Brad Beatty, Heart for Winter Haven Penny Borgia, United Way of Central Florida Marquinia Butts-Fisher, Healthy Start Coalition Steve Chapman, Read Polk Wilma Daniels, Polk County BoCC Carol Fox, Lakeland Regional Health Taylor Freeman, Florida Department of Health in Polk Whitney Fung, UF/IFAS Daniel Haight, M.D., Lakeland Regional Health Schatzie Haines, Lanier Upshaw Corlis Johnson, My Nature’s Delight Joy Johnson, Polk County BoCC LEAD Team members at Poverty Simulation In 2015, the number of individuals in Polk County living in poverty was 18.5% - 2% higher than the state average and over 3% higher than the national average. Poverty or a lack of income can have a profound effect on access to basic needs and services and there is often a trade-off or choice made to meet one need versus another. There is a diminished quality of life for those living in poverty with the detrimental effects ranging from poor nutrition and health to substandard housing and lower academic achievement. Over the past two years, the Quality of Life Team focused its efforts on deepening their understanding of the contributing factors to poverty and the resources that are available in the community, as well as access gaps that low-income individuals and families are likely to encounter on the road to self-sufficiency. Specifically the Team hosted focus groups and LEAD forums on a variety of topics including Housing, Health, Hunger, and Elderly Services. The Team assisted in coordinating a “Poverty Simulation” along with eight other agencies in a UF/IFAS led educational event, to help policy makers from around the county better relate to obstacles families face in addressing daily needs. Moving forward, the Team will continue to build awareness in the community of poverty and related issues impacting our citizens quality of life. Plans are underway for a series of focus groups and LEAD forums on additional topics beginning with Behavioral Health. By 2030, decrease the percentage of individuals in poverty to consistently be below the State of Florida average. In 2015, the number of individuals in Polk County living in poverty was around 2% higher than the State average and over 3% higher than the national average. This gap has widened in the last ten years. Families Below Poverty Level Individuals Below Poverty Level BENCHMARK Gabrielle Knight, Lakeland Regional Health 19.4% 17.0% Rosemarie Lamm, Community Volunteer 13.8% Kim Long, Community Volunteer Colleen Mangan, Florida Department of Health in Polk County 12.2% 9.4% Tim Mitchell, Parker Street Ministries 2000 2015 Rob Quam, Lake Wales Care Center POLK COUNTY Erica Sirrine, Southeastern University 12.9% 4.4% 9.0% 2000 2015 FLORIDA 11.5% 15.8% 12.5% 12.4% 9.2% 2000 2015 USA 2000 2015 POLK COUNTY 6.5% 2000 2015 FLORIDA 2000 2015 USA Source: US Census Bureau Steve Thompson, Red Cross Nat West, Community Volunteer 20 “It is refreshing to network, collaborate and build relationships with other professionals from such a diverse background and areas of service. The mutual encouragement to provide for a better quality of life for all Polk County residents is revitalizing. I am inspired to know of the vast array of folks who truly CARE for our neighbors.” – Rob Quam, MSW, Executive Director, Lake Wales Care Center