TrTribune: We’re Here for You; November 2013

We’re Here for You: Being part of an ‘Abundant Communmity’

In the book “The Abundant Community,” authors Peter Block and John McKnight present the argument that the community is better suited to meet the needs of its neighbors than the systems currently in place to meet those needs. At Foothills Family Resources we are taking this concept of how much a community can do all by itself to heart and we ask you to join us while supporting the Center for Working Families (CWF).

This support of CWF does not necessarily have to be financial as Foothills Family Resources’ goal is to essentially create a database of the skills in our abundant community which we are all proud to live and/or work in. Whether you make a mean lasagna, have serious plumbing skills or would like to serve as a mentor, every skill is welcome to assist those working to move from crisis to self-sufficiency.

Do you want to serve on a board of directors which has a direct impact on your neighbors in need? We always need members dedicated to the cause. Are you good with woodworking? You can donate some time to help a young child learn how to make a birdhouse. Do you make paper-mâché? Let’s gather the CWF families for a crafts session on making piñatas and use them for birthday parties for our students’ children. The beauty of this program is we can think outside the box and effect our students in ways most programs don’t. Remember, we are serving the entire family unit, and I’m sure that you have a talent to share which can have an impact!

When we create programming it’s important to identify goals which will indicate success and, in the case of the Center for Working Families, those goals will revolve around the financial success of the students. This includes improvements in employment status, decrease in debt and an increase in savings. But there’s another angle we will focus on which will revolves around our community that’s a bit more abstract, but just as important. Our goal is to hear graduates speak of missing Ms. Smith’s lasagna at monthly meetings or to hear them tell stories of how Mr. Jones was always there when there was a plumbing issue at their house.

We are just as excited to hear about the times when mentors went above and beyond as we are to learn that a student is working in a job that will change the course of their families’ future.  Helping people find a successful career is a primary goal, but helping them establish positive relationships skills is just as important in the long run for that person and our community. If students graduate, change their lives and talk about lasagna, plumbing, mentors and piñatas we’ll know that it’s the community helping the community. That’s when we’ll know this is a sustainable way to empower those in need. That’s when we’ll know that we have a program that will not only change the lives of its students, but will have an impact on our entire abundant community.

If you would like to be part of this abundant community please contact me at dwbolto@bellsouth.net or 864-836-1100. Remember, there’s no skill or talent we don’t want to hear about.


TR Tribune: We’re Here for You; March 2013

As we move forward in this conversation, I hope to make it clear that the primary focus of Foothills Family Resources (FFR) is to move our neighbors in need from a place of crisis to one of self-sufficiency.  Crisis to self-sufficiency…..a phrase you will hear a good bit in this conversation, but we do not place a greater emphasis on the former or latter. Through the Integrated Services program and the soon to be instituted Center for Working Families, FFR does work to provide mental/medical health, educational and financial services that will aid in the ultimate goal of a more fulfilling life for all those we serve. But today we are going to talk about a service that I, and the great staff I am blessed to work with are very proud of performing. That service is providing food to those without. No matter what your culture, religion, ideology or political leaning, we all feel that inner spark encouraging us to be there for our fellow man or women.  It’s that unmistakable feeling in the pit of our stomach encouraging us to share this most basic of needs with those we inhabit this planet with.

At FFR, the food pantry is often the means by which someone is introduced to the myriad of services we offer as well as being one of the most utilized services we provide. In order to address this need The Graham Foundation generously funded the expansion of the food pantry in 2012, allowing FFR to store a greater amount and variety of food. What were once two adjoining closets is now a 15’ by 10’ area with shelving that contains primarily peanut butter, pasta, rice and canned vegetables/fruit/meat. Along with this, 2 chest freezers house anything from whole chickens to ham, fish and fresh bread.

As is consistent with our mission discussed in February’s column, FFR strives to provide not just food for sustenance, but food for health. One high quality protein source, 4 vegetable/fruit products and one starch such as rice, pasta or bread is provided per every 2 people in a household. And while FFR cannot be seen as the primary means for food in a household, we do understand that return visits are sometimes needed to get an individual or family through a difficult time.

There are no strings attached to the food pantry, but it is through this entry point that FFR’s staff can often identify other needs that may be addressed by FFR. As an example, a young woman can enter in need of food and be immediately referred to the Piedmont Women’s Center after informing staff that she is pregnant. Upon learning that she dropped out of school, the Women’s Center would refer her to the Foothills GED Program to continue her education and Greenville Mental Health to help process this new stressful situation in her life. FFR staff would then provide Benefit Bank counseling and opportunities to receive SNAP benefits (Food Stamps) and WIC(Women Infants Children) food and nutritional programming in house.  This type of situation occurs regularly at FFR, and this system will become even more focused and empowering this summer with the institution of the Center for Working Families which will include financial counseling, job training and employment services. I look forward to discussing this further in a future column.

As you can see, it is not just FFR’s individual services that make this organization so vital to Northern Greenville County; it is the close proximity of all of these services to an underserved population that makes FFR irreplaceable in the region. This is especially true considering FFR serves a population that faces a lack of transportation as a huge barrier to receiving services. These individuals need help and would go without if FFR did not exist.