At first blush, 3 percent doesn't seem like a large number.
That's the percentage of people in Woodbury living below the federal poverty line. But that means a family of four is living on $22,000 a year, and there are scores of other families in Woodbury who need help.
The Woodbury Community Foundation (WCF) outlined the results from a Wilder Research survey on Monday night in front of about 50 residents at Woodbury Lutheran Church. Group officials spoke about their efforts to address poverty and connect those in need with community resources.
"We know that we don't have all the answers here at the Woodbury Community Foundation, but this is a good start," said Amy Pflieger, a WCF volunteer who emceed the event.
Wilder Research Executive Director Paul Mattessich said the survey provides the WCF with a clearer understanding of the specific issues facing Woodbury residents, many of which "may be somewhat invisible."
For example, 9 percent of respondents said they worry about not having enough food, but about half said they don't know where to go for help, Mattessich said.
A third of those who responded to the survey said they were having problems with debt, which extrapolates to about 20,000 people in Woodbury, he said.
Alisa Rabin Bell, WCF executive director, said a lot of the information isn't new, given the state of the economy. Yet the data did provide the organization with four key areas of concern: jobs, food, housing and youth.
"This report has added some clarity for us," Bell said, later adding that the group wants to be "a catalyst for change."
WCF Board member Dick Hanson spoke about how the poor economy has affected Woodbury residents. The board has been working with groups such as the Washington County Workforce Center and the city's Housing and Redevelopment Authority to foster collaborations and share resources. "Plugging some of the gaps," he said.
"It's a matter of mobilizing the community and better utilizing our resources," Hanson told the crowd.
That could mean connecting people with job-training groups and working to keep businesses in Woodbury, he said. Nearly half of survey respondents said there are not enough stable jobs available in the city and more than a quarter said job loss has affected their family.
Upcoming projects include partnering with Habitat for Humanity and acting as a conduit for groups looking to assist people in need, Hanson said. Already the WCF has given a $5,000 grant to Woodbury's Christian Cupboard, which the food shelf will use for strategic planning, better marketing materials and an improved Web presence.
"It's good to get people talking," Hanson said, "but we like to move them to action."
Added WCF Board Chair Dixie Ewing: "Neighbors helping neighbors—that's what the foundation is about."
Woodbury resident Mike Sabbann was among those in the crowd at Woodbury Lutheran on Monday. He said the presentation was helpful. "I care about people in need," Sabbann said.
The survey was sent out in February to 4,000 Woodbury households, with 900 people responding, a strong response rate, Wilder's Mattessich said. View the full results here.