Project HOPE / Life at Andrus-on-Hudson

This article from the United States Province gives a glimpse of events along with some ‘success’ stories in a few of its sponsored ministries and services among the people. 

Twenty-five years ago, when the Little Sisters of the Assumption opened their convent doors to homeless women with children, Project Hope (House Open People Enter) was first launched. It became one of the first family shelters in the state and its own nonprofit organization. Project Hope has developed into a multi-service agency at the forefront of efforts in Boston to move families beyond homelessness and poverty. It provides low-income women with children access to education, jobs, housing, and emergency services; fosters their personal transformation; and works for broader systems change. This unstable economic climate has forced once stable families into poverty and has challenged us to be creative in seeking ways to enable people to ‘move up and out of poverty’ as is Project Hope’s mission. 
 
Project Hope Recognized as a Social Innovator
Project Hope’s Workforce Development & Employer Partnerships (WDEP) health care training program was selected as the 2010 Social Innovation Forum winner in the employment and education category. In May, Tressa Stazinski, Director of Workforce Development, presented to
investors interested in forward thinking approaches to help low-income people achieve self-sufficiency. Tressa promoted Project Hope’s successes to grant makers and venture philanthropists interested in effecting positive change. Some of the stories shared were:
 
Tanya, From Homeless to Hopeful
Tanya came to Project Hope after fleeing her abuser with nothing but what her children could fit in their backpacks, and now, as a graduate of WDEP, Tanya is economically stable and supporting her family.
 
Lisa, 6 Years of Stability
Lisa was unemployed for 2 years and about to lose everything—her home, her children, her self-esteem and her dignity. Today she has been employed in the healthcare field for 6 years since her graduation from WDEP. The Social Innovation Forum presentation showed how the
creative approaches implemented in WDEP can have deep and long-lasting effects on participants.
 
Karen, Project Hope Ambassador
Karen, a mother of two, was laid off from her customer service job at a local insurance agency in 2009. Even with her unemployment checks, she was not able to afford her market rent apartment, and her family was evicted from their Dorchester home. After bouncing from one relative’s home to another, the Department of Transitional Assistance moved them into a hotel in Braintree. They lived in the hotel for six months until a space became available at Project Hope’s Family Shelter. 
 
Karen spent the next few months taking part in every program Project Hope offered. She enrolled her youngest child into the Project Hope Children’s Center and she enrolled herself in the Workforce Development & Employer Partnerships program. She was accepted into one of the free job training programs that provides classroom training and job placement support for entry level positions in the medical field. 
In August 2010, her family received the keys to a three-bedroom apartment subsidized by a combination of public and private funds. In April 2011, she accepted a job at a Boston area hospital. She began as a part-time employee but within a month, she was promoted to full-time. It has been a long and difficult journey, but Karen is walking steadily on her path out of poverty. 
 
 
 
 
The Newburgh Ministry’s mission of Presence, Service and Transformation has always marked the journey with and the response to the needs of people in the very debilitated east end of Newburgh. Founded in 1983 as an inter-congregational ministry of three communities, since 2005 the Ministry has been on an internal journey of transformation. Responding to the growing problem of homelessness and lack of available housing, the Ministry with the help of many volunteers, extended operating hours through the night in order to welcome homeless men. This effort, Winterhaven, led to the realization of a renovated building and a shelter program that runs year round in addition to the day time programs. The renovated building opened in January 2011. Jim McElhinney, the executive director, worked tirelessly along with the board and staff to realize this dream.
 
In February of 2012 Jim left the Ministry, to work in a new homeless shelter program in Indianapolis, Indiana.  As a board member, Jean McCormack, LSA is engaged in the interview process for an interim director and is also working with the staff on the day to day needs until the director is in place. In each visit to the Ministry, Jean witnesses the dedication of the very small staff and volunteers who serve the people who come through the door each day with great commitment and love. It is another journey of transformation as staff, board and guests of the Ministry grieve the loss of Jim and look to the future. We hope to build on the dream realized in the new building and our efforts to reach those who are most marginalized in this area of Newburgh. 
 
 
Life at Andrus-on-Hudson - the Retirement Community where 7 Little Sisters reside
Andrus is like a village unto itself, with a multicultural staff and resident population. The ebb and flow of the day is quite predictable as staff goes about their duties and residents follow the rhythms they have established. 
Andrus on Hudson hosts many events during the year. These events are opportunities for members of the local community to educate, entertain and to learn from the residents. Got rhythm? It is hard to match the invigorating effects of the recreational staff who inspire rhythm even in the most debilitated residents. 
When the recreational therapist puts on the music, maybe jazz or reggae and begins to dance, the beat is contagious drawing in nurses and aides who happen to be in the rotunda. Stimulated by the music and movement, the residents, in spite of their disabilities , are caught up in the moment. Stiff bodies confined to wheelchairs sway to the beat and faces light up. 
Daily events include movement and fitness programs, yoga, meditation, adaptive bowling, shuffleboard, arts and crafts, music therapy, piano lessons, strolling minstrel, pet therapy, lectures, outdoor BBQ’s, afternoon teas, ice cream socials (one of our favorites!), matinee movies, and happy hours. Special events include intergenerational programs, theme days, concerts, theatre events, garden parties, Casino Day and craft fairs. 
 
The Hudson Line train from NYC has its own rhythm as it periodically carries Sisters ,friends and volunteers to Andrus. How fortunate we are to have these visitors along with the dedicated staff here, who help set the tempo of the daily routine. With a warm smile, a “hello,” friendly conversation and humor, they can make inconveniences surmountable and, at times, even make it seem that our small elevator walls expand! 
 
At Pernet Family Health Service in Worcester, Massachusetts, over 600 families have been served in multiple programs this year. Although the economy has made it very difficult to find funding for these programs, Pernet Family Health Service continues to provide home visiting and center-based groups to parents and children. Almost 4,000 individuals received food, infant formula and diapers. The many donations of baby supplies, clothing and furniture have directly supported families who struggle to make ends meet.
 
Our expertise is in home-visiting to strengthen families, but Pernet Family Health Service has grown considerably in neighborhood-based initiatives that help to build community. Over the last few years, the Family and Community Development Program has instituted Nutrition Classes, a Community Computer Lab, a Leadership Training Academy and, each winter, builds a community ice rink with the help of many different groups in the neighborhood. This is based on the Little Sisters of the Assumption “Three Phase Model” of crisis intervention, capacity building and civic engagement, helping families walk through the steps towards self-sufficiency. Pernet Family Health Service was highlighted in the brochure for the Diocesan Appeal Partners in Charity.
 
The Little Sisters in USA
21/05/2012
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