Our local community provides many amenities such as good schools, a safe environment, varied recreation options, access to healthy food, and a strong economy that allows residents to live healthy and economically stable lives. Some of our neighbors, however, have barriers in their lives that prevent them from being able to meet all their basic needs without the program support of agencies like Loaves & Fishes Community Services.
Recently Loaves & Fishes added a new program called Moving Up which is designed to help individuals learn how to build their resources in an effort to move them from “just getting by” to being able to plan their lives and become self-sufficient. This program is a new approach and extends an invitation to its participants to act as investigators as they examine the barriers in their lives that prevent them from being self-sufficient. Based on a national, successful program called Bridges Out of Poverty, six to twelve investigators meet with facilitators in a safe and honored environment for three hours weekly for a total of 16 weeks. Each “investigator” is assigned mentors and receives dinner, child care and a $25 gift card each week to remove the barriers that might prevent attendance. This program, which has been hosted by St. Thomas the Apostle Church, has received tremendous community support with congregations recommending and sponsoring individuals, providing the dinners and mentors for the investigators.
The first session of Moving Up began on January 12, 2016 with 11 investigators and will end with a graduation in mid-May when each of the investigators writes their own resource plan and future story. The mentors will be their sounding boards and cheerleaders as the investigators move to implement their resource plans which will help them complete their future stories.