Fox Valley gathering aims to end cycle of poverty

A summit in Oshkosh on battling homelessness, hunger and poverty.
A summit in Oshkosh on battling homelessness, hunger and poverty.

OSHKOSH – A new effort began Tuesday trying to break long-standing cycles of homelessness and poverty in the area.

And now community leaders from around the Fox Valley are gathering to do something about it.

While the homeless in Oshkosh ride out the bitter cold at the Day by Day Warming Shelter, community leaders from around the area are trying to find ways to help them permanently.

“In order to reduce the number of homeless, to reduce the number of people who use the pantry, reduce the number of people who need meals at the Salvation Army, we need to get at the root problems,” said Tina Haffeman of the Day by Day Warming Shelter.

And the problems aren’t just homelessness and hunger, but also mental health issues and education challenges.

“We need to talk about transformative change, innovation, that’s why we are here,” said Terri Green of the Oshkosh Area Community Pantry.

Leaders say there will always be people dependent on social services. But others just need a helping hand.

“If we continue to just give money to those symptoms without really getting at the root causes of the problems, the problems are never going to go away,” said Cathy Mutschler of U.S. Venture.

The groups cite poverty as the biggest roadblock to people becoming self-sufficient.

“They want to help themselves, they need a leg up, they need someone to help them figure out how to buy their own boots before they can pull themselves up by their bootstraps,” said Mutschler.

And they say they can fight poverty better by getting individual organizations from social services to charities together.

“There is all kinds of parts and pieces that go together with this and when you bring us all together at one time, we start to realize that all of us are trying to solve a problem. And it’s the same one,” said Green.

They hope new ideas may lead to solutions.

“We have people of means, we have technology and we have a systems way of thinking about things and we have communities coming together in ways we never did before,” said Mutschler.

To help those in need take the first step toward surviving financially.

The groups will meet the next two Wednesdays to continue their discussions.