According to Bob Pfeiffer, Certified Public Accountant and Federal Safety Net author, “In America we have lots of government programs fighting the war on poverty and thousands of charities aimed at helping the poor. But one thing is missing – the personal touch. The poor need friends and mentors to help them with decision making and give them encouragement and support to improve their lives. We all need help to acquire life skills …. The poor are often missing that backing. One of the most effective ways we could improve poverty is to work one on one with the poor as mentors and friends. It is the missing link in the war on poverty.”
We here at Thrive! arrived at the same conclusion. We employ a long-term “walk with me” approach that pairs individuals in poverty — Leaders — with people who want to help fight the stressors of poverty — Allies. Leaders and Allies meet twice a month to discuss the Leader’s unique situation and goals. The Allies offer support, encouragement, and a sounding board for ideas. Twice a month, Leaders also participate in discussions about aspects of life and living to provide new ideas and a means of understanding the difficult world in which we all live.
I arrived at Thrive! in April 2016. That first dinner seemed confusing, and I wasn’t sure who was who. I have come to believe that is one of our strengths. After some training, I was matched with a Leader and spent the next 18 months struggling along with my Leader as we learned more effective ideas for managing stress, locating community resources, having fun with others in Thrive!, and feeling better about life in general. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed going to our Thrive! activities and learning more about myself and the great things Manhattan has to offer.
While not focusing on getting a job, making more money, and addressing what most think are the road(s) out of poverty, the lives of everyone associated with Thrive! agree that the experience has made their lives and the lives of the children of Leaders so much better.
For those reading this that have not experienced any Thrive! dinner or activity or invested in the Thrive! Flinthills organization, I encourage you to come by and sit with us for dinner. As a minimum, talk to any one of us to learn more about this fabulous and effective program.
— Milo Kelley, Thrive! board co-president
Thrive! graduated its seventh class of participants — known as Leaders — in September, bringing the number of families currently served through the relationship-based, life skills development program up to twelve. To some unfamiliar with the challenges of living in poverty, twelve families might not sound like many, but those families result in:
As a Thrive! volunteer, I have seen first-hand that positive relationships over time can achieve TRUE COMMUNITY! In these seemingly difficult political times when factions hunker down and few really try to listen, Thrive! does things differently. No matter your political preference, skin color, spiritual beliefs, or amount of money saved, Thrive! is a real community that embraces difference and that works together for family empowerment.
The eighth class of Leaders who are graduating in December from the nine-week “Getting Ahead” preparation class will need Allies. I wonder if you might want to join the Thrive! community and become an Ally? The six-hour Ally (volunteer) training will take place Saturday, December 15 from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and Sunday, December 16 from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., with a make-up/booster Monday, December 17 from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Contact me if you’d like to know more about the Thrive! Ally trainings or to sign up for the December sessions.
Elaine Johannes, Thrive! Ally Coordinator
firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Christina first met Jayme, Thrive! Executive Director, when she was a youth in foster care.
Years later, their connection once-again shaped Christina’s life. A simple invitation to a Thrive! dinner opened the door to a better life for her and her two children.
When Christina joined Thrive!, her two children were in foster care, a situation she wanted to change. Fast forward 3-1/2 years: Christina is working full-time and has sole custody of her children. “I’m living near Lawrence and work in store operations at Fastenal,” explains Christina. “I am living paycheck to paycheck, but I am not depending on someone else. No IOUs!”
She’s finding that independence has its hurdles. “I’m not saving yet. I no longer qualify for assistance, and day care and health care expenses are more. I feel like I am spending much more; but, I am moving up and have a budget.”
Despite the challenges, Christina is proud of her accomplishments. “I never thought I’d make this much money and live outside Manhattan. I have freedom, independence and I am a better parent.” She attributes this to learning how to apply for jobs. “Once you know how to interview, you can achieve more.”
Learning is a common theme in her Thrive! memories. “I learned how to file taxes and apply for car insurance. I didn’t know how to do these things.” Perhaps most importantly, she learned how to parent. “I am much more level-headed, organized and spend real time with the kids. My Thrive! Allies taught me that kids really just need love and attention. There comes an age we mimic our parents. I learned that I can do things differently.”
Speaking with Christina, one can sense that she’s grounded, focused and has plans for an even brighter future. “I plan on finishing school to become a mechanic and save for a down payment on a house.”
Christina’s Advice for Leaders and Allies
Leaders – individuals seeking to improve
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