Program helps those in poverty plan for future

by | Nov 9, 2014 | Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Systemic change

featured-image-generic-svdpProgram helps those in poverty plan for future. Those living in poverty often lack the financial planning experience to lift themselves out of it.

The St. Vincent de Paul Council in Belleville, Illinois is working to break that cycle through a systemic change project.

For several years, the Belleville Council has been working on ways to help make lasting changes in the lives of those in need so they can move permanently out of poverty. Systemic change is a principle that goes beyond assisting people with their immediate needs. The Society partners with the poor to help identify the root causes of their poverty. They then work in unison with the poor and other organizations to change the structures that keep people in poverty.

Seven years ago, the Council introduced its first systemic change program. It began offering a budgeting class to teach skills to help people become more fiscally responsible.

The effort has only grown since that first program was initiated. The Council has added other resources and programs for people to take a part in and utilize. They started a low interest micro-lending program, resume writing classes and JOBLINK, which is a weekly flyer with local job listings.

The Council also established the Gear-up for men and Career Gear for women programs. These two programs assist low-income individuals get ready for a job interview. They are provided interviewing tips and free business clothing.

While all of their programs have been very successful, the Council saw a need to develop a tailored program for the residents of public housing. This past April, the Council launched Building a Ladder to Success. It is a four-hour class held once a month. The program, operated by the Council, rotates to all the sites overseen by the nearby East St. Louis Housing Authority. The purpose is to help empower young men and woman by educating them on budgeting, resume building, interviewing skills, personal choices, family relationships and more.

The project has only been active since April, but it has already seen great success. So far, they have held five classes with an average of 15 participants per class.

Building a Ladder to Success is offering participants an opportunity to identify and embrace ways to make positive changes in their lives. This program, as well as all the others, has been instrumental in the Council’s systemic change efforts. They have helped empower people on many levels. Participants have been motivated to get IDs to begin the process of moving forward with a job search, finding a job, getting out of abusive relationships, learning budgeting skills to avoid eviction, finding adequate housing, getting out of payday loan situations, enrolling in school and other activities to break the cycle of poverty.

Pat Hogrebe, executive director of the Belleville Council, said that they are helping change lives, “one person at a time!”

For more information contact the Society 

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