To improve Shenandoah Valley residents' lives, 544 leaders from 42 different institutions and leaders from local and state governments crossed political divides Tuesday, March 21st, as they gathered at Bridgewater Church of the Brethren and launched Valley Interfaith Action(VIA), a volunteer-led, strictly nonpartisan, multifaith, multiracial citizen's power organization affiliated with the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF). Together, VIA leaders kicked off campaigns addressing childcare and transportation gaps.
"A demographer in Texas told us that of anywhere in the United States, there were no two adjacent jurisdictions that had as divergent presidential election results than Harrisonburg and Rockingham County," said the Rev. Adam Blagg of Otterbein United Methodist Church. "We're building an organization that brings together ordinary people across city-county, political, race, and faith divides so we can engage corporate and elected power players in the Valley around our priorities."
Thanks to the more than 500 people gathered from the community, local elected and corporate leaders committed to work with Valley Interfaith Action to bring door-to-door demand response transit to the county and to create 250 new, quality Pre-K spots and increase wages for early education teachers to $50,000 per year in Harrisonburg. They also committed to working with Valley Interfaith Action to secure $10 million so that all three and four-year-olds from families making less than $55,000 per year could access quality childcare.