Every Tuesday, one of Stephanie’s three boys asks “Is it Thrive! day?” The ‘yes’ response is greeted with laughter, excitement, and a quicker-than-usual pace to get going. The reason is simple: Thrive! = family.
Stephanie is a Leader who has been attending Thrive! Tuesday dinners and programs for about 18 months. Family, acceptance, and support are the three words Stephanie uses to describe her Thrive! journey.
“I was very depressed and was just coming out of isolation. I’d start to cry if someone even looked at me. Thrive! allowed me to openly express what was going on in my life,” Stephanie shares.
When her husband, Kyle, was laid off, the family fell 3 months behind on mortgage and auto payments. Kyle explains, “We were just skimming by on unemployment and lower-paying jobs. I’ve taken a less-than-desirable job, but we’re caught up.”
Job loss is one aspect of poverty; however, Thrive! helps individuals resolve the multiple stressors related to poverty, including self-worth. While taking the Thrive! Getting Ahead class, Stephanie started to trust other people. “Everyone is welcoming. They make me feel good, feel happy, feel free,” Stephanie beams. “I’m learning how different people react to different situations. We had a class on criticism. It’s interesting how different people are.”
Back to Thrive! day: Stephanie’s family looks forward to the weekly Thrive! dinner, youth programs, and adult programs. “The boys have made friends. They have a community.” As for Stephanie, “Thrive! asks us to help with activities or support local runs. It’s exciting. I feel better — proud — of what I’ve done.”
Thrive! works by matching people who are struggling to improve their lives — Leaders — with people who are able to provide positive relationships that help counteract stress and make progress.
Helping a young woman dream.
“I was raised by a single Mom who struggled,” shares Betsy Draper, who serves as an Ally. “Those childhood memories strongly infused who I became: the proverbial 1st-generation college graduate.”
“Growing up, we had larger families and extended support. There was always a sense of a light in the tunnel, and the real possibility to come out the other side. I hope that I’m giving my Leader a sense of the tunnel and the approval to dream.”
As an Ally, Betsy volunteers her time to help someone who is struggling to improve his or her life — known as a Leader. Each Tuesday, Betsy shares a Thrive! community dinner, conversation, and classes with her Leader. They also text and sometimes chat weekly.
Betsy explains that her Leader “lives life right on the financial edge. She has no cushion in her life for issues or even an unexpected tank of gas.”
“Myself, and my co-Ally, are having good conversations with our Leader. She’s thinking about a long-term career. We’re helping her expand her thinking beyond just surviving.”
Betsy confides that being an Ally has forced her to be vulnerable. “People’s lives and needs push my comfort level. I can’t control or fix everything. I’m thankful the Thrive! staff provides training and support and encourages me to simply be here and listen.” “Sometimes, I think I’ve changed more than I’ve helped. Hands-on, you see the change, the results, a family succeeding. Poverty is real. I know the names. I know the faces. Thrive! families are my community.”