Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Stride, A Pathway to Self-Sufficiency. Part 2 of 3: The Programs

I keep going back to this exercise:  SPENT.  I guess that for me, it's so much more than a game - it is a way to actually SEE what kind of obstacles people face, to make decisions about those issues and then experience the result of those decisions. So, the link is here in case you want to review, or maybe even try it for the first time.  I imagine that for many people, the end-result of these decisions brought them to Stride. What happens now that they are standing on the doorway ready to take that "long, decisive step"?

Stride's "Pathway to Self-sufficiency" is certainly a worthy goal.  When it seems that everything in your life has gone wrong, it's nearly impossible for courage and willpower alone to repair things. Says David Lloyd George:
"Anything can be achieved in small deliberate steps but sometimes you need the courage to take a great leap; you can't cross a chasm in two small jumps."
Stride provides a smooth path and assists with the small steps so that individuals are able to take the great leap.  Here's how they do this.

Issue - Education:  In a tough economy, it's nearly impossible to obtain self-sustaining employment without at least a high school diploma or GED.  Or maybe you need some specialized education to help procure that elusive job opportunity.

Issue - Employment:  Perhaps education requirements can be met, but you lack the tools necessary to find employment. You need computer access or help with a resume' or you require interview coaching. Maybe you've had a hard time keeping jobs because personal issues have simply overwhelmed you.  Child care, medical issues, transportation problems, the lack of a permanent address or even depression can make things unbearably difficult.

Issue - Housing:  Stability is the real issue here.  Yes, we all need a place to "hang our hat", but housing is so much more than that.  The home is the base.  It's as simple as having an address to put on a job application and as complicated as having somewhere to re-charge the batteries of attitude, ambition and purpose.

Issue - Finances:  Everything costs!  And I'm willing to bet that the less money someone has, the more expensive it is to obtain the the absolute bare necessities that life demands.  Credit card fees, late payment fees and disconnection/reconnection fees combine with higher interest rates for "risky" borrowers to make living without enough money extremely expensive.

Solution:  Stride, Lakewood Colorado. 
Beginning with the assignment of a caring case-worker, the family's situation is analyzed and a project plan is created to overcome each obstacle to success and to eliminate it.  Stride participants are put under contract to keep them focused on each step of the process.  They receive coaching and encouragement, sometimes even tough love in order to help them navigate through the issues which prevent them from succeeding. 

If they need additional education, they are given opportunities to do this, including specialized tutoring if necessary. 

If participants need job counseling, it is provided even to the point of post-job support in order to insure that they stay employed. 

If they need housing, Stride guides them through the process of obtaining an affordable place to live through public agencies. A 5-year commitment to follow their plan is required but the assistance to stay the course is provided.  Stride helps with moving, rents, damage deposits, household supplies and obtaining furnishings. Additionally, financial counseling to help families achieve independence and savings is available. 

Step by step Stride has been hand in hand with each participant.  When the process is complete, the families are ready to make that final leap.  Because of Stride, however, they find that the chasm isn't very big at all.

NEXT POST:  Stride, Part 3 of 3: Funding

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