Biking together to St. Louis to address issues of poverty!

Biking together to St. Louis to address issues of poverty!

What is the Together to St. Louis ride?

From September 22-24, 17 riders will bike in relay format from Lancaster, PA to the aha! Process National Conference in St.Louis, MO.  These riders are biking 905 miles across the country to raise awareness for addressing issues of poverty and to raise funds for the Together Initiative Network. The Together Initiative Network is a movement of like-minded individuals and organizations in Pequea Valley School District who are committed to work together for the common good of their community. The Together Initiative Network is addressing the four bold goals of the United Way: kindergarten readiness, post-secondary credentialing, the decrease of poverty, and a medical home for all families.

How is the Together Initiative Network addressing these issues of poverty?

To accomplish these bold goals, in partnership with community social services, The Factory Ministries, the Together Initiative Network has transformed an old elementary school into the Together Community Center (TCC).  This community center houses The Factory Ministries’ youth center, social services center, and food pantry.  The TCC is also a hub for direct service providers to offer literacy, GED classes, budgeting, career, medical care, behavioral care, and high quality early education services to under-resourced residents of eastern Lancaster County, PA.

The poverty rate for students in Pequea Valley School District is 54% and families find themselves struggling to make ends meet to provide stable, safe, and healthy homes for their families. The Together Community Center provides a context for individuals to connect with with the tools they need to overcome their lack and become productive, empowered, engaged members of society. 

Why are you biking to St. Louis? How are you raising awareness?

The Together to St. Louis riders want to show the world how we can address poverty through community collaboration. “This ride is about so much more than biking. This is about a collection of people from the PV community, many of whom are scared to death to ride this far, coming together to do more collectively than they could ever do alone. This is the essence of the Together Initiative Network – taking our collective desires to reach beyond ourselves and making a stronger, more sustainable community than we could ever envision or realize on our own,” says Tim Rogers, Lead Pastor of Grace Point Church. Ruth Weirich, Engagement Specialist from the aha! Process says, “The commitment shown by the Together Initiative Ride members helps put a dent in breaking the cycle of generational poverty.  Through the Together to St. Louis ride, other conference attendees witness the community dedication and collaboration needed to develop resources and stabilize individuals, organizations and the community.”

What happens after the ride?

After the bike ride to St. Louis, members the Together Initiative Network will be presenting six different workshops during the aha! Process National Conference. It’s an incredible opportunity to share nationally what we have learned in our community on what can happen when different sectors work together. We will be training non-profit leaders, school administrators, church leadership teams, and other sector leaders from all over the United States on what the Together Initiative Network is able to do through community collaboration. PVSD administrators Erik Orndorff, Rich Eby, Cathy Koenig, and Sharon Ray, Grace Point Church Lead Pastor, Tim Rogers, and The Factory Ministries President/CEO, Chuck Holt will present workshops on the collaboration of public school and church, reaching under-resourced students, and how schools and non-profits can work together for the good of the family. As Chuck Holt says, “People all across the nation have come to me and said how inspired they are by the bike ride and conference workshops we lead. People are encouraged by the Together Initiative Network to go back to their own communities with the belief that through collaboration, they can really address issues of poverty.”

Ruby K. Payne, Ph.D., Founder and President of the aha! Process, says, “The riders are proof that when communities work together for the benefit of the whole community, the community thrives. The Together Initiative Network blesses us with their ability to take the work, expand it in ways we never considered, and provide an exemplary model of what communities can do.  We are so blessed to have the opportunity to work together.”

How can I be a part of it?

You can join this movement by supporting our riders! Click here to support a Together to St. Louis Rider through the online fundraising page. 

Follow the team on Facebook by liking the Together Initiative Network page and searching the hashtag #togethertoSTLOUIS.

Kate Lab

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