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
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