Board Member since: 2023
Arwyn recently joined the United Way of North Idaho board of directors but has been involved in our work for several years as a Community Impact Committee member and her behind the scenes work on the ALICE Bulletins. She is a marketing guru for Advanced Benefits and extremely active in philanthropy and all things good in the region!
What makes you proud to be living in north Idaho?
I love North Idaho’s resiliency. Anytime there is a crisis or a time of need in our community, people show up in a big way. I think of instances like when Sgt. Greg Moore was killed and how the community immediately rallied behind the PD and his family, or when wildfires threaten the homes and livestock of our neighbors how people volunteer to help or shelter animals. You’ll be hard pressed to find a more resilient people than in North Idaho.
How did you come to connect with our local United Way?
I wanted to get involved in non-profits in my community, but felt very overwhelmed by the number of organizations in our area and didn’t know which one would be aligned with my passions. My boss suggested United Way of North Idaho with the impact councils, because you got to learn and acquaint yourself with the non-profits in our area in a way that the average volunteer can’t. He was absolutely right and I’ve loved how I get to meet and learn about non-profits in our region of all shapes and sizes.
What does it mean to you to Live United?
To Live United is to overcome our differences. Living United means helping our neighbors and our communities in times of need and crisis. If we’re working to help serve food families who have lost their homes in fires, we wouldn’t tell someone “Oh sorry, you support XYZ politician, no soup for you!” Living United means breaking down the social barriers that might exist, keeping us at odds with each other, and instead coming together to support each other.
When we talk about family finances in the United States, for generations we’ve talked about the American Dream. But today, when we look at income disparity in our country, it's clear that most of us are much closer to homelessness than we are to joining the ranks of any billionaires. At UWNI, we work hard to advocate for the ALICE (Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained Employed) population. What did you find most surprising (or sobering!) when you first learned about ALICE?
I’ve been a member of the ALICE population before. It was the scariest, most stressful time in my life. I remember one day making dinner and all I had was chicken broth and a bag of frozen vegetables and making soup for dinner and going to bed still so hungry. I truly believed that being in that situation was because of the choices I had made, and that I must have done something wrong, or I wouldn’t be facing these struggles. I worked a full-time job, split rent with a roommate, and only purchased the basics necessities and pinched pennies everywhere I could. When I learned about ALICE, I was stunned to learn how MANY people were in the same boat I was in and how you could do everything right as an adult and still find yourself in an ALICE situation because of out-of-control costs of food or housing, or a surprise emergency expense like a medical bill. It was a relief to learn that it’s not because you did something wrong, but it was horrifying to realize that it’s so much harder to fix a systemic problem than a personal one.
Which health projects and partnerships are you most proud of at UWNI?
Affordable childcare is such a struggle in our area, as it is nationwide, and I’m so impressed with how the team at UWNI has put together creative solutions in the childcare scholarships for families in need. They have also worked to coordinate with local employers to put solutions in place. The UWNI team has truly done some spectacular work and I think we’re just cracking into the tip of the iceberg.
Success can mean different things to different people. In your eyes, what would it look like when every youth in north Idaho “succeeds”?
I believe that a youth in North Idaho is succeeding when they are able to finish school without delays or shortcomings in their education and are equipped to have a clear direction on if they want to pursue a college degree, learn a trade, or jump straight into working at a job that will set them up for success as an adult. Additionally, I believe that children should be able to focus in their education without fear of when their next meal will be, if they are going to have adequate shelter for the night, or if they are going to be able to stay warm during our long winters. Kids should be given a chance to be kids.