An important discussion took place at this year’s The Healthiest Community Summit IV on November 13. The topic, “Why Living Wages Matter to the Health of Our Community,” shed new light on how living wages are directly linked to the overall health of a community.
Nearly 130 people attended to hear about the progress that has been made since the last Summit III in June 2013, and to learn about the socio-economic factors (income and wages) that impact health, and how work to build capacity to address these issues in the Monadnock Region.
Attendees heard from Dr. Rudy Fedrizzi who shared how wages impact health outcomes, KSC professors Kim Shmidl-Gagne and Patrick Dolenc who shared what a living wage looks like in the Monadnock Region; Phil Suter, president of the Greater Keene Chamber of Commerce, made remarks about how living wages can strengthen a local economy. Emily Hall-Warren from W. S. Badger Company shared the company’s successes in providing living wages for their employees.
Our keynote speaker, Jeff Furman (photo, above) chairman and board member of Ben & Jerry’s, spoke on the importance of offering employees a livable wage at his organization and shared the positive impact it has had on the Ben & Jerry’s company – even after the sale of the company to Unilever – and the benefits to the greater Burlington, Vermont community.
In the afternoon, after lunch and an fun “instant recess” dance (see photo, below),participants worked together in small groups to take what they heard from the many speakers to create our own living wage campaign in the Monadnock Region. More to come as we compile the participants’ input.
The Summit was an inspiration to us – and to many attendees as well. During the Summit we signed up eight new Individual Champions; 32 people expressed interest having their children’s school become School Champions. And more than 60 people expressed an interest in joining a new Living Wage Work Group! We are all looking forward to the next steps to making living wages a reality in the Monadnock Region!