Pathways with Amber Stitt

Focus on Community: Breaking the Cycle of Generational Poverty with The Live & Learn Organization

October 04, 2022 Amber Stitt
Pathways with Amber Stitt
Focus on Community: Breaking the Cycle of Generational Poverty with The Live & Learn Organization
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, I interview Iris Ortega about The Live & Learn Organization. Iris is the Community Engagement Manager and is a wealth of knowledge about the program and the history of women here in Arizona.

Iris and I discuss the Mission behind Live & Learn, and what it means to Break the Cycle of Generational Poverty. 

Situational Poverty could be:
-When a parent loses a job
-When there is a divorce
-When someone suffers a chronic illness 

Generational Poverty is different as it can continue from generation to generation and is ongoing. This can affect not only the parents but the children and everyone's health. 

Iris discusses how they treat the "Whole Person" in this program and not just a few things in the home. This is so important as she mentions that children in generational poverty are more likely to suffer from chronic illnesses, heart disease, diabetes, and so on.

We also discuss the many ways you can support Live & Learn. If you would like to help this Organization, please contact Iris at and visit them at Here you can find additional information about:

-Target Circle
-Direct Sponsorships
-Annual Fundraisers and Events

**Please Follow them on Instagram at @liveandlearnaz or on Facebook at LiveandLearnAZ**

Please support Domestic Violence Month in October!

#financialliteracy #givehope #hopeblooms2023 #empowerwomen #hopeblooms #hopewithaplan #targetcircle #buildcommunity #theamberstittshow #takeactiontoday

NOTE: This podcast was transcribed by a free AI transcription tool called Otter. Please forgive any typos or errors.

Amber 0:00
Hello, and welcome to the amber Stitt Show. I'm your host Amber Stitt, and today we welcome Iris Ortega, Engagement Manager at The Live & Learn: Women's Nonprofit Organization. Welcome, Iris. Thank you for being here today!

Iris 0:18
Hi, Amber, thank you so much for having us.

For all the listeners that haven't met Iris yet, or who haven't learned about living learn, we're going to discuss a little bit about how the organization helps in Arizona and who they serve. And I was lucky enough to be Iris through my community, my network, with women in insurance and financial services being part of that organization. There was another person that lived and learned that had connected with me I think we had met and maybe a coffee meet-up. And then next thing you know, I'm meeting iris and the team and was fortunate enough to be part of their hope. Lives committee. We'll have more about that later. But that's where I met Iris and I think I had an anniversary on LinkedIn the other day that it's almost maybe one year, potentially or like we're coming up or at least over six months, but of just talking together and so that's pretty fun. So I thought, since the audience might not know about you and your group, let's kick it off by talking a little bit about your, your background, your history, and then what you do it live and learn.

Iris 1:22
Yeah, so like you mentioned, I'm the Community Engagement Manager. So really, what I do is go out into the community and connect with individuals like you, we're passionate about supporting women in our community, and just engage them with our mission. Our mission is to break the cycle of generational poverty. We'll get into what that means in a little bit. But I'm actually very blessed and fortunate. I always tell everybody, I'm extra connected. To the mission because I started off as a client myself in 2012. So that's just a little extra something right there for you guys. So when you're saying client, that means that you had gone through the two-year program that is available to people that meet and get into the Live & Learn.

Amber 2:06
I guess we'll call it a program. But how does that even begin? How does someone start and become what you guys say as a client? How do you decide who can be one to work with Live & Learn

Iris  2:20
Yeah, so I mean, right now Live & Learn works with women only. So that's the main thing you have to be a woman or identify as a woman in order to receive services. And we work with women who have been affected by domestic violence, extreme poverty, and homelessness, we know that those are the three key areas that are really impacting and you know, affecting families in poverty right now.

And I know you mentioned breaking the cycle of generational poverty. Can you give us an idea of what that looks like? And when we're working with, you're working with clients, and you mentioned those three parts? What I guess maybe from a statistical perspective, what constitutes generational poverty?

The best way that I could explain generational poverty is by explaining situational poverty. So there are two types of poverty. We talk about "Situational Poverty" and "Generational Poverty."

"Situational Poverty" is a family that is affected by something that happened a situation that happened, that is shifting the amount of income coming into the family. So this could be maybe a parent lost a job, maybe a divorce, maybe a chronic illness that suddenly arose. So a situation of poverty typically affects the family for a period of six months or less and it can typically you can overcome situation of poverty, and really doesn't have any long-term negative impact on the children or the adults in the family. Resources like rental assistance who bought those are very helpful in a situation of poverty.

Whereas "Generational Poverty" is actually a vicious trap that occurs when a parent's poverty permanently affects the lives of children. This can happen from generation to generation. Okay, so obviously, generational multiple decades, you mentioned the children. So when it comes to the situational piece, that could be I mean, the most recent one would be COVID for people potentially.  That was one that all of us can relate to. So I feel like the family element is the big one. I mean, there's parents, obviously this affecting parents, but it's like a trickle-down pattern of behavior potentially that could come from living in this kind of the first step out of poverty. But if it sticks around, is that kind of this key element is making sure children and how they're affected. Like I feel like that's a big piece of this. It's huge. I mean, we know that generational poverty will impact children in the family long term. We do know that with their educational experiences, they're able to maintain a job, but what about their health?

Iris 5:18
Yeah, children in generational poverty are more likely to suffer from chronic illnesses, heart disease, diabetes, and so on.

Amber 5:30
You're saying children, right?  So it's interesting because as I work in financial services, we'll see that the caretakers, historically female, are not always the case, but caretakers tend to have the chronic illness factor as they're taking the care of somebody that's disabled. Maybe the adult parent or grandparents didn't even think about the dynamic that could actually translate down over into the children's lives. Same way. Yeah, and funny enough, Ember learned does not serve children. So we don't work with the children directly. But the work that we're doing with the women, right mom is having a multi-generational impact. We get that question a lot. Why are you making this work with women only? And the truth is that women have 79% of low-income families in Arizona. We know that their income directly affects the child's health, lifelong wealth, happiness, productivity, and sustainability. And we also know that women are chronically unemployed, underemployed, and dependent on other benefits.

Iris 6:30
Okay, so that's where I was going to head next was Arizona kind of the Maricopa County like what are you seeing?

Amber 6:39
But it's, if anything, we've talked about leadership on the podcast and then just kind of ways to have more resilience as we have things that we're going to face in life. So I think it does start with the parents at the parents have some of the leadership and the tools and the resources.

Hopefully, that's going to take care of the children too. There's certainly work that is there on that pediatric pediatric level into the young adult but that's where I think the foundational part of this is helping them the adult the female, you said 79% of female households. And she said 79% of low-income families are headed by women.

Amber 7:21
Wow, that's an amazing statistic and obviously not a good one. So the more that we can do to support that, and it sounds like the program's the education. Tell us a little bit more about the curriculum, because it's not like we're providing you provide us a safe place. There's so much more to that. So do you mind diving into the curriculum and kind of what a client might receive?

Iris 7:46
Yeah, so we have what we call our pathway out of poverty. And we cover a few different areas including education, career planning, health, life skills, financial literacy and health. Health is one of my favorite ones. We always say mom isn't healthy and a woman isn't healthy. She's not going to be able to going to have more barriers to overcome.

I remember not too long ago, and we hear this in children right like children can see the board how are you going to be able to get your work done if you can see what's on the school boards?

Similarly, we're sending women from school to college, and they're having issues with dental issues. They should not Yeah, you're not feeling they are more likely to drop out of the program. Right? And so we're covering the whole person. So a very holistic approach, and it's a very individualized approach, which means that no, no two women will receive the same services. We really do a four assessment and depending on that, we kind of guide our next steps.

Amber 8:59
The customer approach is really neat. I feel like a business there are so many ways to automate the efficiency but it is so important for me to have a boutique approach with my clients because not everyone is the same. So the fact that you customize and tailor to that person and remove I feel like removing barriers. We talked about being sick earlier today and just not feeling well. What's that? What's that like when you show up to try to do your job? Let's just say your job if you're not feeling well, we take it down to the family level and you are like you're saying in the health if you're not feeling well. It is hard to be present, especially for children when you're on your aging. So if there are some other things like dental work and just other problems that are rising, imagine how distracting that can be.

Iris 9:47
I mean, we know that you know women that have experienced domestic abuse poverty, homelessness, homelessness, they already have enough barriers to overcome, right? We're talking about childcare barriers, transportation barriers, so if we can take care of things like the health pieces of making that simple of getting a pair of glasses, you know, getting some dental work done. Those are easy right those are a really easy things so that we can support them.

Amber 10:15
Every human deserves that so that's okay. Is there anything in this? I'm gonna throw you? Maybe a little curveball? I want fellow audience to really know what might be happening in our backyards in Arizona. Like we talked about 79% You're mentioning homelessness. I think people forget that. There are really things happening even though we can't see them. So are there any like highlights like a top three to five that people need? To know? So that can help motivate them to want to help you in your organization?

Iris 10:54
Yeah, so you know, there's so many of course, and I, the statistics have shifted a lot recently due to COVID. So our numbers are a lot higher. I don't want to give you specific numbers because I don't want to mess it up. But I was one thing that I always tell people is that poverty doesn't look like the homeless man at the bus stop, right like a lot of people think homelessness looks like you have to be out on the street, panhandling, things like that. That's not exactly what it looks like. We have to pay attention. And it could mean our neighbor, our daughter, or our friend who might be struggling to get their basic needs met. And just because you know, they look well, they're doing well. That does not mean that they're not struggling. It's important for something to really, really really take with you.

Another thing is domestic violence is a focus point for Live & Learn. And you know, financial independence is huge. So main reason that women come back to abusive relationships is that they are not financially independent. Each time that a woman will leave the aggression at home gets worse and really put in her life. What does that mean exactly? Is it because the person that's being left causes so many more problems? The resources run out in the mom, the woman comes back to the home is that what you mean? That's exactly what that means. Above. The woman feels like, you know what, I could do this. I'm gonna leave. They leave. They run out of resources and struggle to meet their basic needs. They come back into the home whether this is happening, and then they have us action because I think that's typically what we will try to leave seven times before they're successful. Seven times and each time the risk of death it gets higher and higher.

Amber 12:46
Oh my gosh, goosebumps financial literacy piece. It's important for me, I feel like especially when I work in financial services, I feel like there's a place for people that really want to be served people in finance. It's not always about being this accounting brain and being smart. I know that I believe you guys are working on financial courses for the clients. And I think you might even have what are some affiliates. I feel like you guys have won some maybe I want to say like Bank of America or you have some sponsors that are really trying to advocate for the clients. And so I think you've had kind of a standing set of sponsors, but then I feel like you guys are developing more lately. Is there anything you can share about that?

Yeah, financial literacy is huge and at every step of the program, we make sure that we're providing those skills to the women and really walking them through what that looks like at each different state drive because financial literacy is important, but some of the skills that you need after you get a job are different than what your school right you might have to learn to think differently. From a big paycheck coming in. What does that mean you have to worry about retirement, and so on? So there are just so many different times that we haven't set up that we go through. But yeah, so are the women in our program. are receiving financial literacy every month to their flight coordinators and that means every month where they do transportation, childcare plus, we are talking financial literacy. And also we have some amazing support from volunteers. We have a long-standing volunteer Daniel from Bank of America, who provides some amazing workshops and we've seen some great outcomes like last workshop was a huge hit and women just absolutely love it.

I mean, something that I hear a lot is that he really needs them where they're at and doesn't push more, right? Like he oftentimes hasn't saved 100 of a paycheck or you have to save X amount. You have to go into a savings account. The reality is that we might just not be meeting them where they're at is really important. We also have another amazing volunteer who does one on one, coaching, and unbelievable. Like just that one-on-one connection.

The last story that I heard was one woman who actually was able to pass on the first day, take a bunch of stuff off her credit report, and score and this woman is going to be getting ready to purchase a home soon. But it's important, right her family's growing. She's being made so she's making those steps. Now.

It's interesting that you have the "Pathways out of poverty." The framework that I've mentioned before is "The Pathways of Peak Performance" that focus areas number one is focusing on when he goes into understanding when you are the second focusing on money.
So, so important for me, for people to have the confidence that not everyone receives information the same way some like to read books I'm like some like a video or workshop something in person.

Your way is not going to be the same as everybody else's. So it sounds like the customization isn't really paying attention to that and having the comprehension of finance. There are so many facets of that. But if we can build some of the basic kind of routine budgeting, like you said, even if the money's not there, we're training our brains to have the confidence that there's a system that works for that household, that individual that that mom eventually there's going to be some success because you're setting that that framework that groundwork and building in those habits.

Sounds like you guys are giving them the resources for that. So I love that about the program. Is there anything that we haven't covered that we should know about that the audience should learn? About before we wrap this up?

Iris 17:07
That Live & Learn maintains results. We have an 85% success rate. And we couldn't make this happen without the support of individuals that are supporting women like yourself, of course helping us out with our brunch, individual donors, and partner volunteers, we couldn't make it happen. So they're vital to admission. And, you know, please reach out to us. We'd love to get you involved. There's different ways. I'd love to talk to everyone about IRS tax credit, which is the way that everybody can contribute toLive & Learn and get everything back. They file their tax return. So definitely lots of opportunity here.

Unknown 17:50
We'll be speaking on Domestic Violence Awareness Month later on, and you're gonna know I'm excited to engage and connect with every listener out there are in supporting women with that.

Iris 18:24
I don't know if I have the denominations correctly, but $20 or $25 a month gives this person XYZ. It makes it more tangible.

Amber 18:34
People can get on a monthly program with you, you guys right and you can support Can you remind me it's like either gas or groceries or something for the kids? What are some of the to do it's just it's not that much money but it's something that yes, you can do so much.

Iris 18:54
Yeah, I don't have to bring them in front of me. But I will tell you that it's super attainable, right? When we say 10 loans a month, that's our morning coffee run. So it's definitely not going to make a huge dent in your content or the difference in somebody's life. And solopreneurs a month you know

Amber 19:23
tax credit that way, actually does make an impact as something that also is a member of staff can counting progress, which means that you can reimburse for year after year for a program to reimbursement. Yeah, so what that means for donors is that your donor after donation actually goes further. So we donate $1. Yes, one match about And so really, it does make a huge impact. So Oh, and so web page engagement. Something that everybody can do today is just going to social media. Follow stay connected and find out what's going on. We're actually running our target circle campaign right now. So if you shop at Target, go to target circle and offer live a very helpful and a contribution to Target that way. So there's definitely you know, lots of different ways that anybody can get involved very quickly, right now. But for those who would like more information, I'd love to connect with you and tell you how.

Amber 20:33
Okay, I really appreciate all the information I read and I'm gonna do my best to link up as much as I can and give people is it okay to have there's way for them. To reach out to you directly if they have more questions.

Iris 20:45
Yes, everybody can email and hope to learn more. Let's hope living learning And I'm happy to give you guys more information for anything that you're interested in. Keep an eye out for our website. Or calendar events. We'll have something posted out there at the beginning of September, specifically for domestic violence awareness.

Amber 21:07
Yeah, it sounds like you guys are doing kind of a launch pre-October for Domestic Violence Awareness Month, which is October and so there'll be some scheduled events to pay attention to rolling into that month. So I'll make sure that we connect on that too. So for every but everybody that's listening, even if you're not local in Arizona, there are ways that you can help this organization on a national level and I'll be able to be a resource there too. So thanks for listening everybody. And thanks, Iris. I really appreciate your time. And I will be seeing you soon for the hope glimpse branch luncheon and more about that to come. So thanks, everybody for being here and have a great day. Thank you!

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