Vanessa Tinsley is a Miami leader passionate about solving the problem of socio-economic injustice. Vanessa believes that the battle against poverty should include multifaceted solutions, because all poverty is not the same.
Aside from the fact that Miami is just plain beautiful, there are two great reasons for me to be in Miami. First, I love Miami’s diversity. Far from being a melting pot, Miami is a smorgasbord of cultures where differences are celebrated and everyone is welcome to participate in the experience. No matter where you come from, the color of your skin, or what you believe, there is a place for you to belong in Miami. Second, it’s the people. So many Miamians are doing amazing things that make our community a better place. Miami residents give liberally of their time, talents, and treasure; it’s great to live in a city that cares to leave things better than they find them.
WHAT IS THE MOST PRESSING ISSUE TO SOLVE ON YOUR LIST? WHY?
Socio-economic justice — particularly the inability of a large portion of the population to be self-sufficient. The number of working poor is growing. The cost of housing is disproportionate to wages earned and 24% higher than the national average. In fact, we are among the highest cities for cost of living and a full 10% over the national average. As so many households struggle to meet the high cost of housing and transportation, many of them are at risk for hunger, food insecurity and homelessness and often have to do without the most basic of necessities.
HOW CAN WE SOLVE IT?
While some people find themselves caught in the generational cycle of poverty, others find themselves in unexpected circumstances such as being downsized, experiencing an illness, or wages that just aren’t increasing as fast as the actual cost of living. Understanding that all poverty isn’t the same, means that we have to provide multifaceted solutions if we are really going to effect change. That’s the reason behind the comprehensive set of programs offered at Bridge to Hope. Our first line of services involve meeting basic needs such as food, clothing, school supplies, personal hygiene products, and household basics. Additionally, we offer literacy support, a mentoring program for women and girls, financial literacy classes, health screenings, and referrals. We support upwards of 1000 families a year. The most unique thing about our programs is the personal touch. We are all about giving people a hand up and the best way to do that is to get to know them, and make them feel valued. I know them, and they trust me, so I am able to be their partner in creating real change in their lives.