ALBANY, Ga. -- Harriet Hollis, coordinator of the local Strive 2 Thrive initiative, says the program has enjoyed some success in its fledgling year.
At a recent meeting of the Albany Rotary Club, Hollis told members about the process of trying to bring Albany families out of poverty and into independence.
"This is not just a program, this is a process," the Strive 2 Thrive coordinator said. "We don't give our families handouts; it is about surrounding the families with allies who can help guide them and teach them how to network."
Hollis said the nine families -- whose members will graduate from the program in two weeks -- have grown significantly.
According to Strive 2 Thrive coordinators, six of the nine families have found employment within the community, four families have received their GED and been accepted and enrolled into classes at Albany Technical College, while others have purchased vehicles.
Hollis said two of the program's families were homeless when they started the program, and another family was staying with relatives.
"Now four of the families have secured housing and are making a home for themselves," she said.
Hollis stressed the importance of community involvement in the program and the effects of poverty on Albany and Dougherty County.
"It (poverty) affects our businesses, our education and our crime levels," she said to Rotary Club members. "Poverty increases the cost of a business to offer benefits, and we all have to pay higher taxes to provide poverty-stricken families with public assistance."
Hollis said support for the program is greatly needed to continue its mission to eradicate poverty and improve the quality of life for all of Albany's citizens.
"It's going to take a collaborative effort to eradicate poverty," she said to Rotary Club members. "We need your manpower, your donations and your time."
Hollis said community volunteers could help the initiative by speaking to the families about issues such as the importance of budgeting finances, establishing credit, writing resumes and even just listening to a family's worries and goals for the future.
"We are taking care of all the challenges that are currently preventing these families from getting out of poverty," Hollis said. "These are all minor issues that we as a community can address."
Strive 2 Thrive will welcome 15 more families to the program in October.
For more information on Strive 2 Thrive or how you can volunteer, contact Hollis at (229) 291-8361 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.