Inclusion Initiative SummitSCRANTON, April 19, 2016 – State Sen. John Blake (D-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Monroe) today hosted a number of local community leaders at Marywood University for a panel discussion on poverty in northeastern Pennsylvania as part of his second Inclusion Initiative Summit.

“Today’s forum convened leaders with a diverse set of perspectives on the issue of poverty in our region and I felt very strongly that the conversation was productive, honest, informative and engaging,” Blake said. “We are faced with a number of challenges here in our region and across the state with so many of our neighbors and citizens struggling in poverty. We need to continue to engage community leaders in business, in our schools and at all levels of government to foster opportunities to advance prospects for living wages so our young men and women and our families can escape the generational cycle of poverty.”

Senator Blake cited a recent report by the Institute for Public Policy and Economic Development which found that in 2013-14, 13.6% of Lackawanna County residents and 20.5 % of Scranton residents were living below the federal poverty level.

IMG_7261“There are too many people – including seniors – who are living in daily financial stress right now in northeastern Pennsylvania. We need to remove outdated stereotypes about poverty and take up a collaborative engagement with a variety of partners in academic, health care, governmental, charitable, nonprofit, business and judicial circles – to change the scale and the scope of poverty in our region,” Blake said. “I believe that it is the responsibility of all of these stakeholders to continue to advocate for and to continue to work together to improve the quality of life for hard-working residents. No one should be working 40+ hours per week and living below the federal poverty level.”

Blake was joined on the panel by Gary Drapek, president and CEO of the United Way of Lackawanna and Wayne Counties; Monsignor Joseph Kelly, executive director of the Saint Francis of Assisi Kitchen; Maureen Sullivan, community outreach organizer at the Community Intervention Center of Lackawanna County; and Alejandra Marroquin, intern at the Office of Diversity at Marywood University.

The forum was planned and coordinated in great measure by Ly’Esha Fleming, a Marywood University Social Work student who interned in Senator Blake’s Scranton Office this year.

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