What Drives Me in My Work to Create a Community Where Everyone Can Thrive

Baby in shopping cart with their mother in a grocery store

 

ALICE families—those who are asset-limited, income-constrained, and employed—are the North Star of the United Way of Southeastern Idaho. These families earn too much to qualify for most benefits while still struggling to meet their basic needs.

The United Way of Southeastern Idaho (UWSEI) builds powerful partnerships to help ALICE families address the unique constellation of challenges that they face every day. 

ALICE families are an important part of our community; they are our neighbors, our coworkers, and our friends. 

The challenges faced by ALICE families can be broken down into four areas

Since these issues are central to ALICE families, they are also central to the mission of the UWSEI. Each of these issues constitutes one component of my role at the UWSEI. 

As the Community Resources Director, I work at the community-level, bringing together stakeholders from across our region to collaboratively develop and implement plans that will improve outcomes for ALICE families. This work spans each of our four impact areas by using data-driven strategies to advance community-wide efforts to improve outcomes for ALICE families. In this role, I also work to continuously monitor the needs of our region, our community, and our partners via our forthcoming Community Dashboard. 

Therapist with a patientMy interest in this field began in Canada when I was completing my graduate research. At that time, I had the opportunity to work with a community-university research alliance focused on understanding the relationship between homelessness, mental health, and social inclusion. Our team was made up of academics, physicians, nurses, social workers, politicians, and community members with lived experience of both mental illness and homelessness. Those relationships formed the foundation onto which we built community-driven solutions to advance the health and wellbeing of persons experiencing mental illness and homelessness. After that experience, I knew that I wanted to apply my academic skills to complex social issues. 

Following that initial experience, I went on to work in higher education where I taught junior faculty members how to create collaborative, community-based grant applications. In that role, I continued to expand my knowledge of grant development and education theory. After my husband and I moved to Southeastern Idaho, I went on to manage Bingham Memorial Hospital’s grants program and its physician education program. This move allowed me to deepen my interests in education and healthcare through work in the nonprofit sector. The United Way brought all my interests together. It provides a great opportunity to leverage my experience in research, data analysis, grant management, digital outreach, and community-based collaboration to push for changes that will improve outcomes for ALICE families. 
 


KAmy Wuest

Author:
Amy Wuest, United Way of Southeastern Idaho Community Resources Director
Amy joined the United Way in September of 2020. In her role as the Community Resources Director, she draws on her background in healthcare, education, and social services to help create powerful partnerships. She brings experience in research, data analysis, grant management, digital outreach, and community-based collaboration to the United Way of Southeastern Idaho.