Moving Upstream

“Into each life some rain must fall.”
– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

It is inevitable that each of us, no matter how well prepared, will encounter storms in our life. Some will be tsunamis, with waves so strong and large they flood an entire country, and others may be more like an April shower in that, while an annoyance now, they will cause something beautiful to bloom in the next season of life.

Some of us are blessed with more resources to survive the floodwaters, with foundations built on strong and sturdy rock that can sustain severe weather. Yet others, by no fault or choosing of their own, have minimal resources, with fragile foundations of support that sit on sinking sand, and the slightest amount rain, adversity, or difficulty can cause their entire life to wash away without some sort of intervention or assistance.

Eckerd Connects exists primarily to do two things each day. We seek to rescue those lives ravaged by these floodwaters, hoping to save lives, repair the damage, and restore these victims to full recovery. The other thing we do is seek to find ways to “build a dam” that can stand against these floodwaters; getting upstream and building protective factors in the lives of those most vulnerable and at risk.

We build this dam by helping individuals establish economic stability for themselves and their families through education, training, job-skills certifications, job apprenticeships, job placements, life-skills coaching, mentoring and high quality early childhood education for their children. We seek to provide those we serve with the ability to discover their pathway to success through meaningful employment.

Below are poverty statistics released by the September 2018 U.S. Census Bureau representing various categories of the population and the percentage of people within those categories who are in a poverty status:

September 2018 US Census Poverty Status in various categories.

“The best social services program
you can provide anyone is a job.”
— Joe Clark, Eckerd Connects’ Board Member


Building the DAM

Work and education are two critical factors in lifting people out of poverty. From Ron Haskins of the Brookings Institution testifying before Congress: “Young people can virtually assure that they and their families will avoid poverty if they follow three elementary rules for success – complete at least a high school education, work full time, and wait until age 21 and get married before having a baby. Based on an analysis of census data, people who followed all three of these rules had only a 2 percent chance of being in poverty and a 72 percent chance of joining the middle class.”

Helping youth and adults get a job and an education are the most powerful things society can do to move upstream in the fight against poverty and ultimately prevent children from entering the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. Too many families, crushed by the weight of their economic situation, fall apart, and then soon after a child is removed due to neglect or is arrested for stealing in order to put food on the table.

While Eckerd Connects understands there will likely always be some need for child welfare and juvenile justice services—and we operate these programs in order to serve these families—we are committed to doing all we can to minimize the need for these services. For Eckerd Connects, our priority is to #GiveADam, to help build a dam of jobs for those who need a hand to help lift them up so that they can then stand on their own.

This is what we mean by #GiveADam. And we ask you too, if not already doing so, to JOIN US!


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