Circles-Open Hand had reason to celebrate on Tuesday, March 15. The day marked 18 months in the program for the first cohort of partnered Allies and Leaders. That’s a year and a half of meeting every Tuesday, building relationships, working on goals like, for example, making a budget, getting out of debt, building savings, buying a home, or buying a car.
Each group’s commitment was honored with a trophy for the leader and a chance to share a few words of reflection. Meanwhile, folks at different stages of the program—including teens who were considering getting involved, leaders and allies from the second cohort, and the newest crop of leaders and allies-in-training, —listened over homemade eggplant Parmesan, salad, and pizza.
It was not a “graduation”, because all of the groups honored will continue participating in the program; either continuing to work on their goals or becoming allies for the incoming group of leaders.
No one who knows Michael would be surprised that he was recently honored as someone who embraces diversity, embodies compassion, and demonstrates dignity and respect to those around him. At a luncheon last month, he was celebrated among 11 other Dignity and Respect Champions.
What’s your background, and how did you become an ally? I’m 24 years old and grew up in Blacksburg, Virginia. My family was middle-upper class, my father was a professor and my mother a volunteer EMT rescue. I have 3 siblings, and all of us are college educated. I attended one of the poverty simulations about a year and a half ago and signed up to participate in Circles after that.
By Liberty Ferda
It started when Annette* vented to her friend about money troubles. She felt she was barely making it, newly divorced with children, with a modest-paying job at an insurance company and not a clue about budgeting. Her friend, Melody, referred her to a money management course called Financial Peace University at Eastminster Church, one of OHM’s partner churches.
Written by: Liberty Ferda
Photo source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/4thglryofgod/14116370187/
New research reveals that 1.5 million American households, including 3 million children, subsist on a mere $2 (or less) per person, per day. For many people who don’t live in poverty, understanding what it’s like is difficult. But what if you could experience what it’s like to live in poverty for a month in America, in just an hour?
Attend one of Open Hand Ministry’s Poverty Simulations.
“I love the sledgehammer!” says 21-year-old Jordan Pollard, who worked on Open Hand Ministry’s property on Beatty Street on October 5. Early in its transformation process, the home is, as he describes it, “totally stripped, all boards and brick.” In six hours, he broke a sweat on every level—he cut 2x4s and fitted floorboard on the upper levels, mixed and laid concrete in the basement, among other tasks.
What motivates this busy college student to give his Saturday to volunteering?
It’s in his bones.
The Bartko Foundation is a Pittsburgh-based non-profit whose mission is to invest in the self-sufficiency projects of single, minority mothers. In the past, a handful of Open Hand families meeting these requirements have applied for funds through the Bartko Foundation to support the purchase of their homes.
Each year, the Bartko Foundation hosts a luncheon called Irene’s Dream. At this luncheon, one Bartko grantee is honored with the Irene O. Bartko Award. A few months ago, we nominated our newest homeowner for this award. While she did not receive the award, the Bartko Foundation invited us to attend the luncheon, as they wanted to honor her many achievements anyway.
(Can you blame them? Our home-owners are awesome!)
We had a FABULOUS time at the Irene’s Dream Luncheon and feel grateful to share a vision with such a wonderful partner. We owe a big “THANK YOU!” to the Bartko Foundation — for supporting our work and more importantly, for supporting the hard work of our families!
To learn more about the Bartko Foundation, check out their website here.