Thursday, April 30, 2009

Giving Hearts of Project Change

A beautiful thank you from our Director of Facilities, Robert Ontman, to the Awaken KC team of Project Change.

"I just wanted to share my personal gratitude and appreciation. In my many years of working with charities, churches, and volunteer groups, I have never seen such a well planned and committed effort. The team has taken the worst and roughest areas of our facility and transformed them into beautiful sanctuaries that will serve our families for years to come.

They took a dark and dismal basement with a ruined floor and completely redid the floor, walls, d├ęcor- everything at considerable time and expense. It has been masterfully crafted into our teen center and is now in use to prepare our teens for a better future as they learn job skills, work ethics, spiritual growth classes, financial management and many other life skills classes that will break their cycle of poverty.

Their other project took a muddy field and created a vibrant rain garden complete with decorative stone walk way, drainage away from our buildings that were getting flooded, and a rain garden too peaceful to describe. All of this tells our beleaguered and down-trodden families that they are loved and that there is hope- without which they can never even attempt recovery back out of homelessness.

The Awaken K.C. team took the biggest group of volunteers that I have ever seen from every walk of life and from diverse jobs and organized them into a well prepared, hard working, cohesive unit. They even smiled all the way through and enjoyed their work. They enjoyed each other and the task at hand. They literally worked through snow storms and rain storms- excelling through every challenge that emerged.

I cannot think of a more dedicated or thorough group that I have ever had the pleasure of working with. Many thanks to Kate Wind, Randy Huber, Michael Hurd, Tim Parks, Patty Kruger, Melody Meek, Kelly with A L Huber, SFS Architects, Western Fireproofing, Lafarge Cement, Wallace Engineering, the gardening companies and so many more. You all have gone well beyond anything that we could have hoped or dreamed for. Please come again."

-Laura Gray

Friday, April 17, 2009

Reaching Out - Removing Roadblocks

We do an outreach to families that receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), but are out of compliance with the requirements for the assistance. Our role is to help the parents remove the barriers (e.g. transportation, childcare) that keep them from keeping a job or getting the training they need to become self-sufficient.

Last year, we helped 69% of our TANF clients find a job, go to training or get off of TANF cash assistance.

Frenchie Pulluaim, who works both with our resident families and the TANF families, observes:

We see first-hand how families are being impacted by the current economic situation. Resources are not readily available, because there are too many families applying for basic services. Agencies providing services are stretched to their limits as middle income families find themselves competing with lower income families for jobs, utility assistance, career readiness classes, legal assistance, and counseling.

The work we do with homeless families is priceless training for recognizing the barriers that must be addressed to prevent these (the sanctioned TANF) clients from becoming homeless.

Although times are hard and economic issues are weighing heavily on families at all levels, it is important that case managers help families in seeing the options and opportunities that will get them through these hard times.
-Laura Gray

Friday, April 3, 2009

Graced by the Amazing People We Server

Some of our residents are amazing.

Our Program Director, Jeannine Short shared this story with me yesterday ...

Cynthia is a single mother of four children who entered our program in April of 2007. Due to complications arising from a high-risk pregnancy, she was unable to work after her short-term disability ran out. Consequently, Cynthia lost her job and within two months the family became homeless - evicted from their apartment.

After she entered Community LINC’s Supportive Housing Program, Cynthia was able to get another job, although she barely made above minimum wage. She had more than $5,000 in old debts, which presented a significant barrier to getting her own housing. She also was forced to postpone plans to get a secondary degree. Undaunted and determined to put the pieces of her life back together, Cynthia held herself accountable and worked the program with unrivaled zeal and fortitude.

Cynthia has more than double her income, retired more than $4,000 in debt and amassed over $3,000 in savings. This week, Cynthia and her four children moved to permanent housing - a four bedroom ranch-style home.

If Cynthia’s performance as a resident is any indication of her determination, we can be certain that she will get that degree, as well!

-Laura Gray