At Network of Community Ministries, we know that the road to stability looks different for everyone. Many people requiring food or clothing assistance are also facing external barriers that can keep them from reaching financial stability. Our Pampillonia Pathways Program works with our neighbors to help address those barriers through a personalized approach designed to meet their specific needs. Network walks alongside our neighbors as they work to better their financial situation, and the Pampillonia Pathways program helps us make this journey with them.
One of the first steps our Pampillonia Pathways coach takes when meeting with a neighbor is making a budget with them. This allows both the neighbor and our coach to see any expenses that might be blocking the neighbor from reaching their goals, and it provides a basis for their assistance plan. Our Pathways coach looks at the monthly expenses and determines how we may be able to help. Once we have seen the neighbors’ needs, we can connect them with resources within Network or refers them to external resources as necessary. Budgeting serves as a foundation for our assistance, and it is a wonderful way to teach financial skills that they can use even after they no longer need our assistance.
One of the most common ways that the Pampillonia Pathways program assists neighbors is by connecting them with Adult Education classes. Network partners with local organizations to host GED, ESL and Microsoft classes in our building, so clients have easy access to them. These courses provide skills and information that will allow our neighbors to obtain higher paying jobs and help their financial situation. For example, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor, people with a high school diploma or equivalent earn 25% more on average than those without. ESL and Microsoft classes deliver skills which make the student a more desirable employee. These courses truly make a difference and can help a neighbor in need earn a higher paying job to help support themselves.
Network’s mini loan program serves as a unique solution to many of the obstacles that may prevent our neighbors from reaching financial stability. This program works to refinance predatory loans or allow our neighbors in need to receive a reasonable loan for certain larger, one-time necessities. When people are in a tough financial situation, they are often targets for pay day loans which have high interest rates and prey on the person’s hardship. Network partners with St. Vincent de Paul to refinance these loans and pay them off, and then offers the neighbor a new, more reasonable loan which they pay off over twelve months. This can also serve as a resource for neighbors who are working to reach their goals but need a little extra help. For example, if a neighbor’s car breaks down and they can’t get to work without a new part, Network can loan them the money to ensure that they are able to stay on the track to financial stability without breaking the bank. This is a flexible way for Network to target a specific need of our neighbors and give them resources that can help them reach their goals.
One common barrier that many families face is the high cost of childcare. When a family can’t afford this necessity for their children, one of the parents must stay home with the kids, which causes a decrease in income. While many people would love to work and make more money to support their family, they are not able to pay for childcare and cannot leave their child alone at home. Additionally, parents aren’t eligible for state childcare assistance unless they are already working, and to many parents need childcare to spend time searching for a job. For these reasons, Network has launched a childcare assistance program for parents actively searching for employment. This childcare is available on a limited basis while the parents look for employment and save for childcare in the future or apply for government childcare assistance. The first two families enrolled in the program this year were able to obtain employment and no longer be dependent on Network for assistance. We are looking forward to expanding this program during the following year!
Our Pampillonia Pathways program is also working to assist our clients who have children by offering free childcare classes. These classes, which are offered in both Spanish and English, will help our neighbors reach their full parenting potential by teaching new skills and methods for communicating and interacting with their children. The classes are discussion based, and they serve a secondary purpose of creating a supportive community for these parents so that they know that they are not alone. All attendees will receive a certificate and are able to attend a graduation ceremony upon completion of the course. This is a great way to make sure our neighbors feel confident in their parenting skills and know that there are others here to support them.
At Network, we know that the road to stability looks different for everyone. That’s why we’re always working to add new services and programs so that we can better serve our community. Our Pampillonia Pathways program works to create a unique approach for each client who needs a little extra help reaching their goal of financial stability. If you’re interested in partnering with us to help our community in this way, please contact Pampillonia Pathways Coach Brenda Martinez at firstname.lastname@example.org