Good evening. When I look out into the audience, I see so many civic, business, academic and non-profit leaders who are working hard to solve the problems of our time and are making our region a better place to live and work. I would suggest to you that what the Upper Valley needs right now is more “Pru’s”.
First, some background. Work United got its start in the Upper Valley in Vital Communities’ Corporate Council as “Working Bridges” and transitioned to Granite United Way soon after. Work United is an employer collaborative dedicated to improving workplace productivity, retention, advancement and financial stability for employees. As the founding Work United Resource Coordinator in the Upper Valley, Pru Pease is a champion for workers and the thousands of Upper Valley residents who live on the cusp of economic disaster. She has led United Way’s efforts to make the lives of the people who work hard and live paycheck to paycheck a little bit easier. Pru has helped hundreds of people understand and navigate the often confusing network of government and non-profit resources available in both New Hampshire and Vermont. She works long hours and goes to extraordinary lengths to help the people who work in our organizations who live on the edge of poverty. For example, she has invited a Work United participant to her house for assistance instead of calling a fuel company directly, which would lead to an exorbitant rate for emergency heating oil. She will go with a client to the food pantry if the client doesn’t feel comfortable going alone. One by one, she is helping improve the lives of the people who get their hands dirty every day.
Pru’s impact extends beyond her clients and beyond the Upper Valley. As a certified Bridges Out of Poverty trainer, Pru has presented her extensive knowledge of economic class and privilege to business and civic leaders across the country. By helping leaders understand the structural barriers to economic mobility, she enlightens us all to how we can create truly meaningful vocational opportunities and support organizations that have true impact. With exceptional passion and a kind touch, she has educated countless people on the realities of the working poor.
Pru’s desire to help people is evident to everyone with whom she comes in contact. Her ability to connect with people who are on the edge of financial catastrophe makes her a successful advocate. Her ability to persuade and educate people about pervasive poverty makes her an effective leader. And Pru’s authenticity is one of her greatest strengths. Her honesty about her past and willingness to share her story sticks with everyone she meets. That is the glue that makes Bridges Out of Poverty stick with so many people who might otherwise ignore it. When you talk with Pru, you come away with something new.
Please join me in celebrating a true Upper Valley hero. Because we really need more “Pru’s.”