Michigan Families Get Support in Moving toward Self-Sufficiency

Hispanic family with son and daughter stand next to vehicle. Families in Kalamazoo, MI, will gain access to increased support as they move towards self-sufficiency, thanks to Goodwill Industries of Southwestern Michigan’s (Kalamazoo) Life Guides program. The initiative will offer long-term support by helping these families build social capital, navigate community resources, design and meet goals for their families, and earn incentives while meeting milestones.

“We believe people do not need to be ‘fixed,’ but possess the strengths to meet their goals with guidance and support,” said the Goodwill’s Director of Marketing Denise King.

Families will work with a Goodwill staff member designated as a Life Guide. He or she will help the family identify its strengths and resources. When the family’s needs cannot be met through community resources, the Life Guide will help it obtain financial assistance. The guide will also form a support network among participating families and empower them to use their strengths to become self-sufficient.

Families at 300 percent or more of the federal poverty guidelines with children between the ages of 0 and 3 are eligible. They must also be willing to attend monthly meetings and commit to meeting their goals as their children grow up. The Kalamazoo Goodwill has committed to serving 10 to 20 families over a 20-year period, and 15 families have already been selected.

The families will benefit by increasing their incomes and socioeconomic status, gaining knowledge of social supports and instilling family financial stability values in their children from an early age. The community will benefit from increased community engagement and increased collaboration among community partners.

“This will benefit the family as a whole, as the children will grow up while learning these values as well,” King said.