Over the past few months, I have told you A LOT about the after-school program and wonderful kids that we work with at the Family Success Center. Did you know that the FSC is not just for Children? Last fall, the FSC launched a series of adult education classes to teach lifeskills that will help adult clients work towards living independently.
According to case worker Angel Russell, the target audience for the classes is the heads of household on our campus and in scattered-site residential programs. The goal is to “provide clients with the resources to be able to gain and maintain self-sufficiency,” says Angel.
Community Partners are Key Players
The classes meet about once a month upstairs in the Family Success Center. There are many community resources available for adults to learn life skills, but accessibility has traditionally been a problem. Since transportation can be a challenge for many individuals working to overcome poverty, bringing experts to the Family Success Center is a huge asset in disseminating this information. So far the FSC has partnered with the Fifth Third Bank for financial Literacy classes, Project Warm to learn about winterizing their homes and saving on energy bills, and the Jefferson County Attorney’s Office to help clients learn their rights and responsibilities related to child support.
In addition to these “traveling roadshows,” to steal a term from Associate Director of Programs Jennifer Clark, who has been instrumental in organizing the adult education classes, SVDP will also draw on staff members to present on important topics. The next lifeskills class, featuring guidelines and tips for cleaning, will be taught by SVDP Case Manager, Angel Russell.
When I asked Angel about why she chose cleaning as the topic for her class, she countered with a question: “How do you know what to do [to clean as house]?” Of course, I learned how to cook, clean, and stick to a budget by watching my parents run our household. “People [living in structural poverty] have often not been taught things that we consider very common,” Angel continued. “People that have been raised in homes with drug addiction or bouncing from foster home to foster home may not have seen these skills.”
Classes Build Community
In addition to providing clients with the skills they need to be independent, the courses also present a time for clients to get to know staff and each other. Jennifer views the monthly meetings as a fun opportunity for clients to “interact with different programs, promote community building, and get out of their apartments.” On a campus as big as St. Vincent de Paul’s, these opportunities to build community ties are exceedingly valuable, so Jennifer and the instructors work hard to make the courses appealing. In addition to choosing relevant topics, clients have the opportunity to socialize and enjoy some free food during the event.
By the way, if you or someone you know has an idea for a life-skills class you would like to see offered at St. Vincent de Paul, Jennifer welcomes input from the community. If you would like to teach a class or simply volunteer at the Family Success Center, feel free to contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ending Poverty One Family at a Time
The ultimate goal of the FSC is to help families overcome poverty. As Jennifer stated, the FSC “believes in trying to serve families holistically.” By working with the adults, we can help them to be more successful in their careers and family life creating a strong foundation for their children to grow-up from. It is our hope that by working in tandem with the parents of the children that participate in our Enrichment Programs, we can end the poverty cycle for these families and ultimately make our whole community stronger.