“You are the light of the world. …No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” -Matthew 5:14-16
Project SHINE is helping families in Montgomery County shine as they move toward self- sufficiency and the abundant life God intends for all people.
Through Project SHINE, we are providing assistance in four key areas:
- Education—Providing vocational and career-oriented education for the parents AND tutoring and enrichment activities for the children.
- Health and well-being—Supporting the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being of both children and parents through social events and referrals to appropriate care providers.
- Economic support—Linking the families with community resources to pay for necessities and filling in the critical “holes” left after community resources have been tapped.
- Social capital—Providing a network of encouragement and access to a network of information to navigate the twisty road toward self-sufficiency.
Volunteers from the congregation provide mentoring in various areas. Our partner Interfaith Works is providing intensive case management and social work support for the families.
Project SHINE is possible because of the congregation’s generous support of the 2013 Firm Foundation Shining Future campaign.
Our journey with our first two partner families began in 2015. Shining outcomes after one year include:
- Two parents have completed drivers’ education courses and secured a car to move toward transportation independence.
- Successfully completing driver’s education has brought these parents renewed confidence in their ability to learn new skills to advance their earnings potential.
- One parent is working part-time on the weekends as a first step toward employment that will support the family’s goal of moving to a larger apartment.
- One family made a long-desired move to an apartment community of their choosing.
- One child played on a team sport for the first time in his life, receiving the benefits of social interaction and physical activity.
- All the children are receiving tutoring twice per week. As a result of that tutoring, one mother experienced the deep joy of receiving a call from her child’s teacher with the news that her child is more engaged in class and showing great improvement.
- One child began taking violin lessons at school.
- One mother received preventative dental care for the first time in many years
- A young couple was able to enjoy a special date in celebration of their 10th anniversary.
- A child received new glasses in a timely manner when an old pair broke so that her education wasn’t disrupted by a struggle to see the board at school.
- Children have been able to purchase and wrap special Christmas presents for their parents.
- Outstanding debts have been paid through PEPCO utility assistance and other community resources.
- One mother has gained motivation to make changes in her life because of her son’s progress in school.
More than 40 volunteers from the congregation give over 160 hours quarterly to support the families in achieving their educational, vocational, health, and economic goals. Volunteers provide support to the families in various ways, including:
- Assisting with children’s homework and educational activities
- Helping to locate summer camps for children
- Accessing scholarship funds for camps and children’s activities
- Providing driving lessons for the parents
- Helping parents navigate how to advocate for their children in the school system
- Assisting with a move from one apartment to another
- Creating curtains for a new home
- Navigating the process to get certified in the desired professional field
- Weighing pros and cons of various professional fields
The families also experience the support of the wider PPC community when they attend special events at the church (such as children’s summer camp, the Community Pancake Dinner, the Community Christmas Dinner, and the Children’s Christmas pageant).
WANT TO KNOW MORE?
Contact Pastor Kendra Grams, Project SHINE Team Leader, and/or check out these resources which give more information about intergenerational poverty and two-generation approaches to help people move toward self-sufficiency:
2 Generational Poverty Presentation by Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services, Sunday, October 11, 2015