When you think of hunger and homelessness, you may imagine far off impoverished countries; however, these problems also exist in our very own communities of Eden Prairie and Chanhassen.
Imagine a child who didn’t have enough food to eat over the weekend unable to focus in school on Monday morning because he is frantic for his free lunch, the only consistent meal he can count on. An elderly woman, somebody’s grandmother, who doesn’t have enough money to pay for medication and food. What choice does she make? Or, a co-worker who is missing work to take her husband to chemotherapy and could soon lose her job and, maybe, their house.
This is invisible poverty – and many people in our community are one paycheck… one mishap… one illness away from being in it.
More than 40 years ago, People Reaching Out to People (or PROP) was founded on the principle of neighbors helping neighbors, by donating time, food, and money to those in need. More recently, we expanded our services to not only meet the basic needs of the 1,100 families we serve, but also provide skills to set clients on a path toward greater self-sufficiency.
What are you willing to do to help prop up your neighbor in times of crisis?
The first time a person or family approaches us for services – even if only for a short-term emergency food supply – they meet with one of our case managers for a comprehensive assessment of their situation. We first seek to understand the circumstances that have led to their need for food or financial help. We then provide assistance to alleviate the immediate crisis and connect clients with other resources, within and outside of PROP, to help them move toward stability. Oftentimes, what we give is hope, and ongoing support as our clients work towards achieving self-sufficiency.
Our case managers work with clients to design action plans to address barriers that prevent them from moving forward. Barriers could include unemployment, transportation, lack of affordable childcare, language skills, and lack of education or training. Quarterly check-ins provide an opportunity for clients to assess their progress.