Thrive! is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the mission of reducing poverty by building skills and relationships that strengthen families and individuals. But what does that actually mean? Read on to find out how Thrive! works.
Leaders are those working to leave poverty behind, and Allies are community volunteers who walk along the Leaders for 18 months to provide emotional support and encouragement. For Thrive! to function properly, we require a safe place, relationships, and life skills. We all meet weekly on Tuesday nights for dinner and eat as a community. If you visited us (which you are always welcome to do!), you would not be able to easily differentiate between Leaders, Allies, and volunteers. While we are not a faith-based program, we are fortunate the First United Methodist Church in Manhattan provides us with their Harris Activity Center for our meetings. This safe place helps us do our work and build relationships.
Relationship flows through all components of the Thrive! program. Leaders develop relationships with staff, Allies, and other volunteers and build those relationships both on Tuesday nights and throughout the week. Consistent youth volunteers provide relationships to more than 25 youth involved with our program. When new Leaders join our program, the one area of their life where they consistently struggle is social support, particularly support for the Leader making change in their lives. One of our Leaders described herself as climbing out of a pit while those who knew her before Thrive! stood at the bottom of the pit grabbing at her legs and pulling her back down to the person she was before.
Only once a safe place and relationships have been established can learning and change begin to occur. New Leaders join our Getting Ahead class where they explore their resources and have a chance to look beyond today to their future story. We ask them to think about their dreams and goals, and through relationships, we help the Leaders make them a reality. After graduating from Getting Ahead, Leaders are matched with Allies. Education doesn’t end there, as we have 18 months of learning as we help our Leaders build skills necessary to thrive in their lives.
If you would like to join us in our work to end poverty in our community, we have a place for you! Susan Wendland coordinates our volunteers and youth programming and serves as the central point of contact for all who want to participate! Email Youth.email@example.com or call 877-376-0032.
We celebrated the graduation of three Leaders on April 24. It was a lively evening of food and celebration! We also welcomed new Allies. Thanks to all who came to enjoy the evening and support the Thrive! community.
On April 24, three new Leaders graduated from our initial Getting Ahead training and were matched with Allies.
One of our new Leaders, Shelly, posted this to Facebook that evening:
“This certificate means more to me than probably my high school diploma, if we are being totally honest. Tonight was graduation night at Thrive!. There are 3 new leaders in the Thrive! community, me being one. Here's to the next 2 years of changing my life. Thank you everyone for your support and encouragement. I couldn't have asked for a better team to be a part of.”
Statements like this from our Leaders make my heart sing. Over the past three years, Thrive! has impacted the lives of 25 Leaders and their families. Sometimes what we do seems like small work. We meet once a week. We have a meal. We spend time together in community. We build on current resources and learn a few new skills. But when you put all those pieces together, we are effecting significant change for all involved. Allies have a chance to form relationships with individuals they may never have met without Thrive! and learn about issues facing those in living in financial poverty in our community. Youth see their parents setting and achieving goals, changing the future for their family, while they work to learn new skills themselves. Leaders have the support and encouragement needed to reach for their dreams. One person at a time, we are working to end poverty in our community.
Congratulations to our new Leaders and welcome Aimee Berges, Marcus Slack, and Shelly Steenbock! Thank you to our new Allies, Pam Beardsley, Betsy Draper, Cassandra Schnarr, and Nicholle Schiebe. As I said at graduation, once you join the Thrive! community, you are part of our family!
— Jayme Morris-Hardeman, executive director
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