United Way of the Mid-South recognizes that in order to reduce poverty in our community, we must tackle root causes. Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) are a root cause of poverty. When a child is raised in an environment of great adversity, one where there are issues such as domestic violence, neglect, mental illness and substance abuse, they are more likely to experience challenges throughout life. Adults who experienced multiple ACES are more likely to have problems like chronic illness, substance abuse and depression. These issues create challenges with becoming and remaining gainfully employed. A great number of adults in the Mid-South report a history of ACES. A study of ACES in Shelby County found that 20% of adults surveyed reported sexual abuse as children and 12% of respondents reported four or more ACES.
Our United Way is supporting the human services community in becoming more responsive to the needs of traumatized adults and those traumatized by ACES. In partnership with University of Memphis, United Way received an ACES Innovation Grant from the Tennessee Department of Humans Services. The “Building a Trauma Sensitive Community” project has worked with 27 local organizations to build knowledge and skills about the components of a trauma sensitive organization. With this knowledge agency, executives are supported in making organizational changes that will promote a healing environment.