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  • Writer's pictureNick Cokas

Your Wake-Up Call to the Poverty Epidemic: We can Create Positive Change with Evan Feinberg

Homelessness, poverty, addiction – none of us are immune, whether in our own communities, families, or cities. It appears not a day goes by that we are not confronted with the sadness and helplessness of our environments. I know that I lean towards avoiding these confrontations and instead, rail against the powers that be and how mismanaged and untenable these situations appear. I had to ask myself, "Nick, do you categorize entire communities through the lens of collectivism, or do I see human souls and individuals?" This one question is what drives this episode of The YOU Effect and is helping reshape my thoughts and actions.


All too often, we as humans, get overwhelmed with trying to find solutions. I do believe we all want to help at some level, but how? In the end, I wind up doing very little because I freeze with more questions than answers. I want to work towards creating sustainable habits in my life to handle these large humanitarian issues but often don't even know where to begin.


Can it start with my day-to-day associations and personal relationships?

Let’s explore together in this episode with expert Evan Feinberg - Executive Director of the Stand Together Foundation.


Click below to listen:

Evan Feinberg from Stand Together Foundation on The YOU Effect


At The YOU Effect, we attempt to live by a couple of very simple mantras:

- It is not about how much you can give, but how you, the individual, can positively affect others.

- Simple conversations about big or small actions that have impact.


We are working out these things in our own lives and we hope to help others do the same through conversation, active listening, and action.


In our current episode 'Your Wake-Up Call to the Poverty Epidemic', we had the honor of hosting the very impactful Executive Director of the Stand Together Foundation as a remote guest. Evan is an expert in the world of helping others find their meaning through programs and organizations that see every human-being as an individual who has unique gifts and talents to contribute. “Too often we accept good intentions and top-down strategies to try to will our way to a more inclusive society, but the only proven way is to satisfy the basic human desire to be needed.”


Stand Together raises & distributes millions of dollars to support programs across the USA that are aligned with this approach, as well as works with local and national governments to try change methods that do not work and are not based on the empowerment of the individual - The Phoenix is an example we feature that is doing just that. But as Evan will discuss, we don’t all have to be involved with these national foundations to make a difference in the lives of others.


"Too often we accept good intentions and top-down strategies to try to will our way to a more inclusive society, but the only proven way is to satisfy the basic human desire to be needed."


In this episode, we unpack what is working and what does not work from the South African and American perspective.


San Francisco has become a leader in homelessness, poverty, and drug addiction. It is obvious to anyone that wants to look, regardless of beliefs or background, things are not trending in a positive direction and the way these issues have been approached for the past 20 years is not working. We believe enough is enough and want to identify some of the historical ways in which we should be approaching and helping marginalized sectors of society. Do I view them as I would my own family, as individuals, who want to be needed and want to contribute? – “There are no quick-fixes to build an empowerment culture. It can’t be done by executive decree, but leaders can and must hold themselves accountable for promoting bottom-up change in our communities,” Even Feinberg.


We have so many programs for this & that to help us find more diversity, more creativity, more leadership skills, more ways to communicate effectively, etc. This past week alone I have read articles titled: How to Deal with an Insecure Boss, How to Balance Work and Parenting, How to Improve My Career. AND just now – in my inbox – Small Habits that will Boost your Well-Being at Work (Harvard Business Review)… How to…How to…How to… Are those living on the streets any different? If asked, wouldn’t they also desire a How-To life?


I completed my graduate studies at Pepperdine Graziadio Business School where their mantra is Building Best for the World Leaders, and because of my experience, I was inspired to subscribe to every possible blog on organizational behavior or servant-leadership or how to lead with purpose, etc. There are great resources and experts in all these fields of study. I am a firm believer that to create sustainable choices and thinking over time, we must stay up to date and be open to a life of learning and re-learning. However, not once have I ever been presented with a How-To create change right next door, in my own community, and not with those who have, but rather with those who have notthe marginalized.


I am sure that this information can be found in blogs that deal with these issues directly, but they are rarely found in our day-to-day subscriptions.

I don’t want to be afraid of being accused of preaching because aren’t some of the best preachers those who are preaching about the VERY things they are trying to work out in their own life? I struggle terribly with my personal responsibility, daily. What is my responsibility and how do I take action? Do I look at sectors of society as a collective or as living, breathing individuals, and how does that shape my actions?

I think it is time to wake-up. I know I did.


One of the greatest diseases in the world today is to be nobody to anyone. – Mother Teresa

Want to take this further, check out Evan's article in Forbes:


Evan Feinberg - Forbes Interview - Are We Measuring  The Right Things

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