By Paula Blair, Case Manager & Program Manager
There is a phrase which is used frequently – “it takes a village.” The Tri-Lakes community exemplified this recently.
On a snowy and cold January day, Jim and Mary – homeless clients of Tri-Lakes Cares – had a special request.
They have been living in their old van at a local truck stop. Jim and Mary had already shelled out money for repairs, but it still need extensive repairs, including heat making it even more difficult to stay warm.
They had read on TLC’s website that we could offer hotel vouchers, so they asked if they could get one to get in out of the cold. Fortunately, we had received grant funds from First Congregational Church in Colorado Springs specifically to help homeless clients.
Since Jim and Mary were currently parked at a gas station on Baptist Road, it was suggested they could stay at the closest hotel, The Fairfield Inn. Haley, TLC’s Executive Director, told Paula, the Case Manager to contact Dave, a TLC board member, who knew the owner of the Fairfield Inn. After several phone calls and emails, a room was secured at a steeply discounted rate – just in time for Jim and Mary to be safely housed before a snow storm the following day.
In the meantime, Haley also contacted Kyle and Carrie, owners of Christian Brothers Automotive in Monument to find out if one of their technicians to look at the van where it was currently parked. A tech went out and determined that it was an easy and inexpensive fix. He drove the van to the shop, where Christian Brothers provided a deep discount to TLC to help these homeless clients.
In the end, the van was repaired, while Jim and Mary were safe in a hotel room during a very cold snap.
We thank Kevin, the owner of the Fairfield Inn; Kyle and Carrie, owners of Christian Brothers Automotive, and First Congregational Church in Colorado Springs for assisting two individuals with life-saving help.
By Michele Palmer, Food Programs Manager
Earlier this year, Tri-Lakes Cares partnered with Care & Share Food Bank of Southern Colorado to begin offering “Cooking Matters” classes to our clients.
Per Jessica McConnell, the Cooking Matters Program Manager at Care & Share Food Bank of Southern Colorado:
Cooking Matters helps families to shop for and cook healthy meals on a budget, as part of Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign.
Cooking Matters offers cooking, food skills, and nutrition education for community members facing food-insecurity. We provide courses and tours throughout El Paso County to teach skills for creating healthy meals and stretching food budgets to ensure families are fed and nourished. The classes are hands-on, skill-building, and discussion based to introduce low-income families to healthy possibilities within their financial means. We staff classes with Nutrition and Culinary experts, and other volunteers from the community, so the participants can get the most knowledge from the classes.
In July, we concluded our first “Cooking Matters” class for families. Trinity Lutheran Church offered their kitchen facilities for 4 families (4 adults and 4 children) to learn about shopping and cooking healthy meals on a budget. With the help of Jane, a Tri-Lakes Cares volunteer nutritionist, the families and other TLC volunteers prepared dishes which were both budget-wise and healthy. Everyone then ate together, with the clients receiving the ingredients to re-create the meal at home. After completing the 6-week course, the graduates received a cookbook, cutting board, reusable grocery shopping bag and, best of all, a super-duper, high quality Chef’s knife!
We are currently conducting our second session of “Cooking Matters” – this one for adults only.
If you would like to learn more about the “Cooking Matters” classes please contact Paula Blair, Programs Manager at (719) 481-4864, ext 112.
By Kim Whisenhunt, Operations Manager
Part 3 of a 3-part series
During our last fiscal year, Tri-Lakes Cares served 490 households. We helped 88 households with utilities and 58 households with rent or mortgage. Tri-Lakes Cares helps with emergency, relief and self-sufficiency programs. In the past, we have been heavy on the relief and emergency programs but in the last five years we have concentrated on our self-sufficiency programming. We are aware we cannot solve poverty for most but we do know it is important to offer programs to help someone who is ready to make that change and move forward.
Tri-Lakes Cares runs a self-sufficiency program called Getting Ahead (In a Just Getting’ By World) created by Philip DeVol. This 12 to 15 week program studies poverty and near poverty through the lens of economic classes to better understand how society and those economic classes work: poverty, middle class and upper class. The participants work as a group to investigate the impact that poverty and low wages have on all of us and what it takes to move from a just-getting-by world to a getting-ahead world. The classes are not “taught” but rather run by a facilitator who helps with group discussions and investigations of the participants’ community. The attendees are considered investigators because they are investigating their community and what in their community are barriers to becoming self-sufficient.
Each chapter of the Getting Ahead workbook addresses different aspects of poverty.
Module 1 -“My Life Now”: If you are going to do something about poverty, you should know an accurate, specific and complete picture of poverty and instability in your community. The investigators create a mental model of poverty addressing what their day-to-day concerns are when living in poverty. Having to delicately balance all of these concerns on a daily basis causes one to live in the “tyranny of the moment.”
To the left is a Mental Model of Poverty. These are the concerns a person in poverty must juggle every day. Imagine the difficulty you would have when your resources do not match your needs. People in poverty are constantly living in the “tyranny of the moment”, putting out fire after fire.
Module 2 – “Theory of Change”: When daily life is unpredictable and unstable, people can become caught in solving problems all day long. Breaking out of that trap can lead to a new future story. It is important for the investigators to know that the stages of change they will go through almost never occur in a straight line and that relapse is normal. The point is that when there is a relapse, we don’t have to start all over but can go back to the preparation or action stage. In the book DeVol states, “the difference between ‘what is’ and ‘what could be’ fuels the motivation needed to actualize personal growth.”
Module 3 -“The Rich/Poor Gap and Research on Causes of Poverty”: Until we explore and understand all of the causes of poverty, we won’t be able to build communities where everyone can live well. There are many causes of poverty, a couple of examples are individual behaviors and circumstances, community conditions, and the list goes on.
Module 4 – “Hidden Rules of Economic Class”: Understanding the hidden rules of class can increase understanding, reduce judgmental attitudes, and help people come together across class lines to solve problems. You may ask, what are hidden rules? Hidden rules are the unspoken cues and habits of a group. If you know the rules you belong, if you do not, you do not. Phil DeVol essentially says, we grow up learning how to survive in our environment by watching how our parents survive the environment. We did not have to be taught the rules directly. Hidden rules come from the environment we were raised in whether it is poverty, middle class or wealth.
Module 5 – “The Importance of Language”: Language skills can help us learn, solve problems and create relationships of mutual respect. Understanding which register of language to use can be the difference in getting a job and being passed over for a position. There are many registers we use in everyday conversations. For example, when we speak to our friends, we have often use word choice that is general and not specific, a smaller vocabulary because of the comfort in the relationship. When we are at work and school, we tend to use a more formal register with complete sentences and specific word choice.
Module 6 – “Eleven Resources”: Ruby Payne defines poverty as “the extent to which an individual does without resources.” Poverty is not just about lack of money. Often people living in poverty are lacking in the important resources that can help them cross the barrier from poverty to self-sufficiency. Our community can do something about poverty by building individual, institutional and community resources. Four of the key resources the Getting Ahead class addresses are Financial, Emotional, Social Capital, and Motivation and Persistence.
Module 7 – “Self Assessment of Resources”: During this module, each investigator assesses their own resources.
Module 8 – “Community Assessment”: In this module, the investigators look at a community assessment. In Getting Ahead, there are two main story lines: the individual and the community. In the last few modules, they assess themselves and in this module, they assess the community. The group investigates the community’s ability to provide a high quality life for everyone, including people in or near poverty. They identify community assets that help the group build resources.
Module 9 – “Building Resources”: In this module, the group analyzes the difference between resources that are for “getting by” and resources that are for “getting ahead”. There are organizations in a community that provide getting-by resources such as food, clothing cash and so on; then there are resources that can help one get-ahead, one would be this Getting Ahead course. Getting Ahead investigators make their own argument for change, create a future story, and plan to build resources.
Module 10 – “Personal and Community Plan”: This module is a wrap-up of what was learned and discovered, and includes working on Personal and Community Plans. The investigators create a future story for themselves and a mental model for community prosperity.
Tri-Lakes Cares is extremely proud of the 48 clients that have graduated from this program. We have seen a reduction in needed financial services from many graduates and we have witnessed the hope that the graduates feel about their future. They can see that there is a way out and Tri-Lakes Cares in there to support them on their journey.
Therefore, when you wonder who is a Tri-Lakes Cares client, you can see a diverse group of hard working people who may have been raised in poverty; or someone in a short-term situation that has thrust them into situational poverty. From what we see on a daily basis, no one wants to live in poverty and Tri-Lakes Cares is there to offer resources and support for all in need in our community.
By Kim Whisenhunt, Operations Manager
Part 2 of 3-part series
A car pulls into the parking lot and a well-dressed couple gets out. They are here at Tri-Lakes Cares looking for help, but they don’t look like they need it.
There are two types of poverty: generational poverty and situational poverty. Generational poverty is when a family has lived in poverty for at least two generations. Situational poverty is when a family’s income and support is decreased due to a specific life change: a job loss, divorce or death in the family.
For many years, Tri-Lakes Cares encountered mostly generational poverty; however, this changed during the 2008 housing market crash. We suddenly were seeing an increase in families swept into situational poverty. These were families who had never dealt with being on “food stamps” or Medicaid – this was a completely new world for them.
This new type of client was definitely different from the typical generational poverty client we served, with different needs and expectations. And, it involved a learning curve for our staff and volunteers too.
I can remember how many of us were used to seeing the average client come to us with an older model vehicle often in disrepair and unreliable. Suddenly, our new client was driving a newer or expensive car and many wondered why they were here, asking “Why don’t they get rid of that car and buy a used car?” or “How can they live in Jackson Creek or Woodmoor and be our client?” These were families who lived in middle class neighborhoods who had mortgages; prior to the housing market crisis they were living within their means.
So, in our middle class minds (staff and volunteers) selling a new or expensive car makes sense. You can then use those funds to help with your financial crisis. But, imagine how hard it would be to do that – the newer car is reliable, it doesn’t require any repairs, and you need it to go to job interviews, shuttle your children to school and go to appointments. Unless your vehicle is paid off, selling it is not lucrative. We all know that vehicles go down in value so if you have a car payment, you still owe on your car. And, you never get the full value of the car when you sell it. If you do sell it, now you have to find a reliable, less expensive used car – coming up with $4,000 to $5,000 to pay for it and then maybe have to make repairs on it more frequently. Suddenly, it makes sense to keep a new car, making a $300 to $400 a month car payment.
So, that young couple with the new car may not look like the typical person living in poverty that we might have in our mind but circumstances have forced them to come to Tri-Lakes Cares seeking help. First impressions are deceiving and until you know their story, you don’t know the reasons for their need.
In our next blog post, we’ll talk about “Getting Ahead” – a workshop series designed to help those who want to move out of poverty and providing them with tools and understanding to do that.
What are Social Determinants of Health and why should you care?
By Cindy Stickel RN, BA, CCM / Faith Community Nurse, Penrose-St. Francis-Mission Outreach
The Colorado Trust (http://www.coloradotrust.org/) defines Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) as “factors that can either positively or negatively impact the ability for all Coloradans to lead healthy, productive lives…important aspects that influence overall health.”
The World Health Organization (http://www.who.int/en/) describes SDOH as “circumstances into which people are born, live, work, and age; and the systems put in place to deal with illness…”
Simply stated, SDOH are those social factors that affect health and the ability to be healthy.
You are affected by SDOH, either in a positive or negative way. For example, studies show that health tends to follow class systems: the higher the social position, the better the health.
60% of your health is determined by your behavior, environment, and social status. That is followed by 20% genetics and 20% healthcare access.
What are some of the Social Determinants of Health that impact your overall wellbeing?
- Your biology and genes: health challenges or advantages
- Personal health practices and coping skills: your ability to make choices that prevent disease
- Your income and social status: strong relationship between your health and your social standing
- Your education and literacy: highest level of education and ability to read affects your health
- Your gender: demands that society puts on different genders and sexual orientation
- Your access to healthcare
- Food stability and your access to nutritious foods
- Employment/working conditions: job security, safety, job benefits
- Social environments: social support from your family/friends, church or faith community
- Spiritual support: Whole wellness includes your mind, body, and spirit. Many health issues stem from a lack of spiritual support like loneliness, isolation, hopelessness, fear.
- Your physical environment: stable and safe housing, transportation, air and water quality, neighborhoods; studies have shown an enormous impact on health: The average life expectancy in the homeless population is 42-52 years compared to 78 in the general population…a 30-year discrepancy!
- Healthy child development: your early experiences affect brain development and school readiness – which carries into adulthood.
- Your culture: language barriers, access to culturally appropriate healthcare and services
Last year, the Penrose-St. Francis Faith Community Nurses conducted a study, looking at what social factors affect clients’ health. After meeting with visitors at the Neighborhood Nurse Center at Tri-Lakes Cares, the results were troubling:
- 52% had no income or were living on a fixed income, such as social security or disability
- 71% had food insecurity (reported times of not having enough food to eat)
- 45% lacked consistent transportation resources
- 40% lacked access to a primary health care provider
As you can see, our clients noted being significantly impacted by several SDOH, including jobs/income, access to food, transportation, and healthcare.
This is surprising data, but what can we do in response?
Well, first and foremost, Faith Community Nurses cannot solve these issues alone. We collaborate with local community service organizations, like Tri-Lakes Cares, and work as a team. This partnership brings together diverse services under one roof for the underserved people living in northern El Paso County, who often don’t have access to services in Colorado Springs. It takes community partnerships to address the effects that social factors play on our neighbors’ health.
Understanding and addressing SDOH is essential to provide equitable, effective, and high quality holistic care to those we serve.
At Tri-Lakes Cares, we’ve created and improved programs to reduce poverty and factors leading to crisis. We provide a hand up during a crisis, and increase access to resources like food, clothing, housing, and transportation.
Penrose-St. Francis Faith Community Nurses at Tri-Lakes Cares serve as part of this team. We strive to improve medical services, coordinate access to healthcare, including medical, dental, mental health, and provide emotional and spiritual support – focusing on community wellness.
Together, we provide a holistic model of health, addressing the various levels of need: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual!
As a team we refer clients to appropriate resources depending on particular needs, using staff and volunteer strengths and expertise. For example, a client may come in for food from the pantry, but a thorough assessment by the case managers and/or the nurse results in them leaving with much more, like prescription assistance, access to medical care, utility or rent assistance.
Every client we see, we ask the question, ‘How can we help?’ And ‘How can we as a community team address the needs today and plan for the future?’ in order to positively affect the wellbeing of our clients, and thus, improve their ability to be healthier and stronger.
That is the ultimate goal as we think about Social Determinants of Health.
ABOUT CINDY STICKEL
Cindy Stickel is a Penrose-St. Francis Faith Community Nurse who staffs the Neighborhood Nurse Center at Tri-Lakes Cares in Monument. She is part of a team of six Faith Community Nurses who are assigned to community service agencies throughout El Paso County, bringing the Centura Mission to life in the community by encouraging health and healing, advocating for the most vulnerable, building relationships with neighbors in the community, reaching out and listening to those who are hurting, and creating hope.
Through you, our impact in February 2018
Giving what is needed vs Giving what you want to give
This time of year, everyone wants to help those who are less fortunate.
When a natural disaster strikes (think the hurricanes in Texas and the Caribbean earlier this year) people want to help but donate the wrong things. For instance, does someone who lives in the tropics really need your old winter coat, even if they have lost everything to a hurricane? More likely, they need fresh water, cleaning supplies and building materials.
Similarly, think about what is needed on a local basis. Tri-Lakes Cares strives to meet the specific needs of those we serve in our community. Our Giving Tree program provides the opportunity for generous individuals to donate specific items requested by children and seniors. Our Holiday Food program gives all the fixin’s to our families to create a holiday meal at home – they can take the items and cook them at home, making memories beyond the hard times they currently face.
As impersonal as it may seem, sometimes the best thing you can do is make a financial donation. When I worked for an international aid organization back in the mid-1990’s, it was more cost effective for us to receive cash donations which were then used to purchase much needed humanitarian supplies in Europe to be shipped directly to the war-torn areas of Bosnia. If we had tried to purchase those items in the U.S. and arrange for shipping and transportation, we would have helped a lot fewer people with meager supplies.
In the same manner, Tri-Lakes Cares can leverage your donations to purchase food through Care & Share at a much reduced rate. Your $20 can purchase up to 100 lbs of food, supplementing the many donations we receive through food drives and collections in the community. In addition, your financial contribution can help with things such as rent assistance and utilities payments. This may not seem “sexy” but it can make a huge difference in the lives of those who are struggling to keep a roof over their head or make sure their families stay warm.
So, before you start collecting coats or toys or other items, contact us (or any of your preferred charities) and find out what is really needed. It may not be what you think it is.
Christine, Development Manager at TLC, worked for an international aid organization in the mid-1990’s and wrote this blog from personal experience having to provide humanitarian aid overseas.
Ah Zucchini! Easy to grow and quick to take over the garden of an unsuspecting gardener (especially the novice), the ubiquitous zucchini is a summer squash that can be served up in so many ways – sautéed, roasted, boiled, fried, added to bread recipes, muffins and other baked goods. A search on Google quickly turns up nearly as many recipes as a single plant does zucchini.
Seriously, access to fresh fruits and vegetables is often difficult for those with limited means, including the individuals and families who come to Tri-Lakes Cares. Through our “Help Yourself Market” and the generous donations of our food rescue partners, we are able to offer a wide variety of produce – both familiar and sometimes odd – that many of us take for granted.
If you are a gardener, you can help by donating any extra tomatoes, lettuce, herbs, green beans, and yes, even zucchini! And, you don’t even have to sneak it onto our porch – ring our doorbell and we will gladly take it in.
Do you have a favorite zucchini recipe? Share it in the comments section and we will re-share with our clients, volunteers and staff.
Many people comment on how a nonprofit should be run like a business, but what would happen if a business was expected to run like a nonprofit, with the expectations that the public has of a nonprofit? Vu Le, Executive Director of Ranier Valley Corps, and blogger for the nonprofit world (Nonprofit…and Fearless), has imagined this in a recent blog posting.
Imagine if Apple had to run like a nonprofit
We nonprofits deal with unique challenges that our for-profit colleagues never have to think about. If you ever sat in the dark for hours listening to REM and eating Otter Pops and wondering what it would like for a large for-profit like Apple to have to run like a nonprofit, wonder no more! I’ve done it for you this week! (What, like your vacation is so much more interesting). And I asked NAF’s web designer and artist, Stacy Nguyen, to draw up some comics.
At the retail store:
Customer: Hi, I’d like to buy this latest iPhone. How much is it?
Apple employee: $700 dollars.
Customer: Here you go. But I want most of this money to be spent on direct costs. No more than $70 should be going to indirect costs like rent, insurance, etc. I also don’t want any of this $700 to go toward advertisement or staff salaries.
Apple employee: We’ll designate these restrictions in our systems.
Customer: At the end of the year, I’d like a report on what you spent this money on.
Apple employee: We provide quarterly financial reports, and would be glad—
Customer: No no no. I don’t want the financial reports on your entire company. I only want a report on what my $700 specifically was spent on. Only my $700.
Apple employee: OK…Would you like to be added to our e-newsletter list?
Meeting with a key shareholder:
Tim Cook, CEO: As you can see, this quarter we surpassed our sales goal, moving over one million units, which is 15% more than we had anticipated.
Shareholder: Congratulations, that’s really wonderful to hear. But…that’s more like an output. What are your outcomes?
Tim Cook: I’m glad you asked! Of the one million iPhones we sold, over 223,000 people used their phones to update their resumes and applied for jobs. Of that population, almost 15% then actually got a job. Meanwhile, about 115,000 seniors buy our phones, and surveys indicate that nearly 7% use their phones to go on to WebMD after they fall and break their ankle. Our phones allow these seniors to figure out how to create makeshift tourniquets for their broken ankles, which prevents them from going to the emergency room, which saves taxpayers about $1.7 million.
Tim Cook: Our phones have also reduced crimes by 30% in some cities, since teenagers and young adults have been using their phones to take naked butt selfies, or NBS, and to look at viral cat videos instead of robbing banks, starting gangs, or committing other crimes.
Shareholder: That’s great to hear.
Tim Cook: Would you consider renewing your stocks this coming year?
Shareholder: I’ll have to consult with the family, Tim. Our investment priorities might change this year. I’ll let you know in 9 months. But to be honest, the ROI seems kind of low with only 15% finding jobs and 7% of seniors using their iPhones to learn how to make tourniquets after they break their ankles…
Customer: Hi, I’d like to buy the iPhone 8 Double Plus.
Employee: I can help you with that. What color would you like? We have black, white, or Burnished Coral?
Customer: Black. But before I buy this phone, what is your sustainability plan? How do you plan to sustain this store after I bought this phone and I’m gone? How are you diversifying your revenues so that you’re not so dependent on retail customers?
Employee: Well, we are courting government contracts, as well as developing relationships with, uh, local and national, um…
Customer: Sorry, it doesn’t seem like you’ve thought much about sustainability. It’s for Apple’s own good to diversify its revenues and not be so dependent on its customers. I’ll buy a phone later when you have that figured out.
Tim Cook: Investors are breathing down my neck about our outcomes. We need to increase the number of people, especially seniors, who use our iPhones to look things up after falling and suffering injuries. What ideas do you all have?
Angela, CFO/COO/CTO/Janitor: Our R&D is working on a feature that would automatically alert emergency services when a senior falls.
Tim Cook: Excellent. How is that going?
Angela: Only 340 customers are allowing a portion of their iPhone payments to be used on Research and Development. So we’ve been short-staffed. In fact, our entire R&D department is basically just Eduardo, who graduated last month with a Master’s in Botany, but he took several online courses on coding.
Eduardo, SVPR&D: If you think about it, plants and phones are actually a lot alike.
Tim Cook: OK…let’s keep working on that feature. Meanwhile, how is the gala planning coming along?
Steve, DD/SVPCom/QA/HR: Better than we thought, boss! Listen to this, after a bunch of discussion at the last event planning meeting, we finally came up with a cool name for the gala. At first, we thought we would just call it “The Apple Gala.” But then we thought, why not be a little cheeky and fun. So now we are calling it…“The Gala Apple.”
Steve: Gala is a type of—
Tim Cook: I know what gala apples are! How is recruitment for table captains coming along?
Steve: We have 5 captains confirmed. Zuck says he can’t captain, but he’ll raise his paddle at the $1,000 level during the ask.
At the retail store:
Customer: Hi, I heard that you are asking for donations of gently-used lightning cables?
Apple employee: Yes, it’s for our initiative to provide charging cables to low-income individuals during the holidays
Customer: Well, I don’t have any lightning cables. But, I got a box of clothes hangers and twelve cans of beets I bought five years ago that I never got around to eating.
Employee: I’m not really sure we can use those…
Customer: I’m sure you can. Poor people love beets. I already dropped it off in your donation box. If you could send me a tax receipt, that would be swell!
Tim Cook’s Mom: How is your job going, Timmy?
Tim Cook: It’s great, Mom. It can be stressful, but really rewarding. Our iPhones support thousands of people as they look for jobs. They also reduce crime and save taxpayers money, and help a lot of seniors when they fall and sprain their ankles.
Tim Cook’s Dad: Are you making enough money? Are you doing OK? Your mother and I are kind of worried about you, son. When will you find a real job?
Tim Cook: Mom, Dad, we’ve been through this. I’m not going to get a “real job.” Helping people IS. A. REAL. JOB! I’m making a difference in the world!
Tim Cook’s Dad: All right, no need to get defensive.
Tim Cook: I’M NOT DEFENSIVE!!!…Look, will you come to the Gala Apple next month? You can get a better picture of the work I’m doing.
Tim Cook’s Mom: We’ll check our calendar, honey. It might be your cousin’s housewarming party. Such a nice house. He’s a lawyer, you know. Have you seen his NBS at the Grand Canyon?
This blog posting was first printed June 26, 2017. It is reprinted/republished with permission. http://nonprofitaf.com/contact/