Children, let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth. – 1 John 3:18
I am someone who likes data. I get uncomfortable in taking action on issues without fully understanding the entire picture, or at least as much of the situation as I can possibly get, especially when it has to do with resource allocation. Time, talent, and treasure are the resources of Saint John the Evangelist. As Father John says, “we are all the church, each of us and our families”. If we are to dedicate the resources of our Parish Family to a purpose, I want to ensure the correct assets are utilized.
We all came together after Hurricane Irma to provide assistance to the community in such a tangible way, with daily truckloads of supplies being gathered here at Saint John and distributed to the community. There was a direct and urgent need to support families that had lost everything, their homes, their belongings, their jobs. Six months later, we are all still dealing with the aftermath of the storm, but we are also now dealing with the “normal” realities of living in Collier County. We can all see the traffic congestion, but do we see some of the deep infrastructure and societal issues that make our area one of the Happiest Places to Live and one of the Fastest Growing Areas in the Country, and at the same time, we can see the destitute situations all around us. How can we clearly showcase the needs of Collier County and identify our role in solving these social, financial, and pastoral challenges?
We now have a set of data that we can use to clearly illustrate all of the needs of Collier County. The Richard M. Schulze Foundation, in conjunction with the Community Foundation of Collier County have finalized a Needs Assessment of the entire area. The Collier County Community Needs and Assets Assessment was commissioned for this exact purpose. The Executive Summary is below, while the link to the full Assessment is here:
- Mean Income (not net worth, just annual income) of the Top 1% of Collier County Residents is $4,191,055, while the Mean Income of the rest of the 99% of Residents is $57,258
- The required annual income for a family of 4 in Collier County is $66,340 just to survive with a home and food, even though the median household income is just $59,783. That would require both parents to be making $15.95 an hour, and most of the hourly jobs in Collier County pay substantially less than that, requiring the parents to work multiple jobs and much longer hours to make up the difference, or to live outside the County in order to afford to live in this area, which increases the traffic congestion.
- Lack of affordable housing is seen clearly as contributing to the over 40% of Collier residences being classified as “Housing-Cost Burdened”, with over 30% of their pay going to their homes.
- Lack of quality after-school programs, childcare, and pre-K is a significant need with households requiring all adults to be working.
- The population will be aging and diversifying over the next 20 years in significant ways that will impact the healthcare needs, housing, and job environment.
These are just a few of the key findings. Now, we have to figure out what can we do to impact these challenges. If we can have CYO and CAO efforts that provide a safe, enlivening environment for both Experienced individuals as well as the children of families where the parent(s)/guardian(s) are working, where cost will never be a barrier for their access to our programs, that would go a long way for the Naples Park area and the outlying communities. There are many more concerns we can tackle as a Parish Family. If you have ideas, please share them with me (firstname.lastname@example.org), and we will be taking this information to our Leadership Councils as well.
We are an active and vibrant Parish Family that will make a positive impact and live our our Mission: To Know, To Love, and To Serve God in His Church and Our Community.