REACH Family Self-Sufficiency
The REACH Family Self-Sufficiency Program is funded primarily through Community Service Block Grant (CSBG) funds. Local Funding is also provided through the Indian River Comunity Foundation. REACH is an employment training program which provides individual/family case management, money management, education, and short-term vocational training. Clients living at or near the poverty level learn to recognize their barriers to self-sufficiency and how to overcome them. The REACH Program helps determined, hard-working people, achieve their educational and vocational goals, earn a living wage, and move away from poverty and public assistance to financial self-sufficiency. REACH helps put an end to generational poverty one family at a time.
REACH is a multi-step program. One step is attending the 2-day workshop, “Getting Ahead in a Just Gettin-by World”. The workshop is based on the works of Ruby Payne, Ph.D. It covers understanding poverty, self-assessment, hidden rules of economic class, the importance of language, potential resources, budgeting, money management, and developing a personal plan for building resources.
The final step is working with the Program Case Manager to develop and execute a self-sufficiency plan. A typical plan includes educational, professional, financial, and personal/ family goals. Financial assistance is provided for tuition and other costs related to short-term vocational training and college education. Based on needs identified in the self-sufficiency plan, assistance may also be provided for childcare, housing, utility bills, and food. Due to limited resources, participation in this final step is offered only to workshop participants who desire to continue their education and demonstrate the highest ability to have a successful outcome. Participants work closely with the Case Manager to stay on track and meet their goals.
Funding over and above CSBG funds is needed to help make the participants’ goals a reality. CSBG Funds can only be used for clients earning up to 125% of the poverty level. Once a client has a job and earns in excess of 125% of the poverty level, EOC must have another source of funds to continue to assist the client in achieving a living wage and self-sufficiency. EOC raises private funding for this purpose, like that provided by the Indian River Community Foundation.
For example, a REACH client receives training and becomes employed as a CNA (average hourly wage of $10.55). Earning $10.55 an hour, the client no longer meets CSBG eligibility requirements but is not yet able to be financially self-sufficient. The client’s career goal is to become an RN (average hourly wage of $30.83). EOC raises and uses local funding to assist the client continue his/her education, reach their full potential, earn a living wage, and become a self-sufficient valuable stakeholder within the community.
The Reach Program is offered in Indian River County Only.
Three REACH Program graduates completed their LPN training at Treasure Coast Technical College in December: Terkedria Henderson, Melissa Jefferson, and Crunesha Neighbors.
“Our REACH clients continue to make us proud. They overcome many obstacles and make many sacrifices to achieve their educational and vocational goals”, says Angela Davis-Green, EOC Executive Director.
Terkedria Henderson is a mother of 3 young girls, ages 4, 5, and 9. Terkedria was trained as a medical assistant through the Adult Education Program in 2011. Until a year ago, she had been working as a Pregnancy Doula with Healthy Start Coalition. When that position came to an end, “all the stars aligned”, said Terkedria. “Everything fell into place, and I was accepted into the REACH Program and the LPN Program at Treasure Coast Technical College.”
The 11 month LPN program is very rigorous. Terkedria was raising three young children and going through a divorce, but she persevered and kept up with her studies. She studied while her children were in school, at their music lessons, early in the morning, and late at night. The entire family was involved. They understood that for those 11 months Mom’s studying had to be her priority. The children wore t-shirts to the LPN graduation that said, “Mommy and I made it through Nursing School”.
After the graduation, Terkedria’s 5-year old daughter announced, “Now we are going to be a doctor.” Terkedria is taking it one step at a time. Her immediate plans are to take and pass her nursing boards. Then, she plans on enrolling at Indian River State College to take her prerequisites to continue her education to become an RN.
Terkedria is thankful to both EOC and Career Source for their investment in her continuing education. However, she said special thanks go to REACH Program Director, Wendy Grow, who Terkedria calls the “God-send that kept her so focused on her goal”.
REACH clients earn GEDs, become phlebotomists, medical assistants, nurses, HVAC Techs, childcare workers, welders, and more. Some are able to complete Associate and Bachelor degrees.
Nicole Sayles and her husband have two children, a six-year-old daughter and an eight-year-old son, who has extreme Autism. Before coming to EOC, Nicole worked part-time, just 4 hours a day cleaning at a drug rehabilitation center. Her husband also worked part-time. The family struggled to pay their bills. Most of their income was spent on care and services for their son with Autism.
Nicole came to EOC for emergency financial assistance. While in the office, she was introduced to Wendy Grow, our REACH Program Case Manager. Wendy encouraged Nicole to participate in the REACH Program.
“I talked about the program with my husband. We talked about how we might re-organize our life. It’s scary to turn your world upside down, but it was an amazing decision for our family. REACH gives you the opportunity to push yourself, to discover the best possible version of yourself, and to pave new roads for the future. I had forgotten what a gift education is. Education is a gift that should never be taken for granted. The team at ECO is an amazing group of people who put their entire heart and soul into helping others. They wanted more for me and my family and encouraged me to want more for myself.”
With Community Service Block Grant funds, EOC paid for Nicole to take the Medical Assistant Certificate Course (a 6 month program) at the Technical Center for Career and Adult Education. Nicole successfully completed the program. She is now a certified Medical Assistant. She found full-time job with benefits at Indian River Medical Center in the Cardiology Department.