COMMENTARY: Can we listen well enough to address region's poverty problems?

Poor moms, children are counting on us

If I were to tell you I’m a mom, that probably would mean something to you.

If I called myself a single mom, that would mean something else.

And if I told you I was an unwed welfare mother, chances are that would send an entirely different message.

Your interpretation would depend, in part, on your political perspective. But whether you’re a fiscal conservative or a social liberal, the labels attached to mothers can mean everything when it comes to figuring out how to help the thousands of Greater Cincinnati moms who are struggling to support their families.

That’s why The Women’s Fund of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation is working on ways to help people from across the political spectrum see through the labels and understand the plight of our region’s poor women and children.

“Part of this is our responsibility,” Women’s Fund Executive Director Vanessa Freytag told me. “To listen and understand what people’s concerns are in a way that addresses them. What’s that old saying? Seek to understand if you seek to be understood.”

Freytag decided the first step is getting people to communicate beyond their political perspectives. The Women’s’ Fund began that effort with the help of Beyond Civility, a Cincinnati initiative that aims to bridge partisan divides to solve problems.

The two groups started with a meeting March 20 held at the American Red Cross building. Nearly 30 people – mostly women – gathered around tables in groups of two.

The idea was for each table to have someone who represented the “right lean group” and someone who represented the “left lean group.”

Insiders can read more about the March 20 meeting, what its participants experienced and what The Women's Fund hopes to achieve through such sessions.

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