Mission: Direct Action Welfare Group Inc. (DAWG) is a statewide organization comprised of public assistance recipients, low wage workers, and people in poverty. Direct Action Welfare Group’s vision is the end of poverty in West Virginia. In order to make this vision a reality, we advocate with low-income families for economic justice. Direct Action Welfare Group believes…. •Poor people of West Virginia can stand together as an organized community to fight against discrimination and the suffering of poverty. •No matter how poor you are you have a voice and rights as a human being. •Every individual should be treated fairly regardless of race, creed, nationality, income, sexual orientation, religion, gender, age, or educational level. •Access to services and assistance is a right and not a benefit •Everyone has the right to a good education including post-secondary education, medical, dental, and vision care, a job at a living wage, affordable childcare, decent housing and adequate food and clothing. •Every mother should have the option to choose to stay home and care for her children or work.
Results: We started as welfare moms, women meeting in the living room of a low income housing project and have grown to over 600 members. Not only have we been able to grow in size but we have been able to influence the way people in poverty are seen in West Virginia. Through our organizing efforts, DAWG has been able to win $8 million to stop cuts to our state child care and school clothing voucher programs; to win restoration of funds for transportation and pre-employment dental and vision programs for welfare recipients; to stop destruction of a public housing community in Charleston: and to win a state funded program that allows welfare recipients to stay in college and receive benefits. Our current work not only encompasses welfare issue but also the issues of low wage workers, teens, grandparents, Medicaid recipients, and others who experience the problems of poverty on a daily basis. In 2009 DAWG hosted a Leadership School, with the Poverty Initiative of Union Theological Seminary, which brought poverty leaders together from all over the world to discuss issues and to share knowledge.
Target demographics: Low income families throughout the state of West Virginia. Through our Teen DAWG program we focus on "at risk" youth throughout the state with a concentration on youth residing in public housing communities.
Direct beneficiaries per year: Our training programs directly impact over 200 individuals per year, our organizing efforts directly impact over 600 people throughout the state. Our Teen DAWG program directlyimpacts over 100 youth.
Geographic areas served: The entire state of West Virginia.
Programs: What We Do Whatever is necessary to ensure that people in poverty are heard and listened to on issues that affect our lives • Empower current and former welfare recipients, low wage workers, and people living in poverty by providing them with the knowledge and the tools to change their lives. • Educate current and former welfare recipients, low wage workers, and persons living in poverty on their rights and how to advocate on behalf of themselves and others concerning their rights. • Organize people in poverty including youth to provide a voice to be heard on the local, state, and national level. • Provide training, support, and advocacy to empower people in poverty to be heard on the national, regional, and state levels to ensure that they have a voice in the policies that affect them. • Organize people in poverty to become leaders in their community. •Provide a space where youth in poverty can organize around issues they are concerned with – our Teen DAWG program