Comstock's magazine 1218 - December 2018 - Page 116

saint john's PROGRAM program FOR for REAL real CHANGE change Breaking cycles, changing lives S ingle-mother-led families are among the most invisible, yet rapidly growing segments of the exploding homeless population. Saint John’s Program for Real Change offers life- changing services aimed at helping these women and children break the cycle of poverty and dependence, one family at a time. Founded in 1985 as a 30-day emergency shelter, Saint John’s transitioned in 2007 to an 18-month comprehensive residential program, having witnessed too much recidivism and realizing that 30 days of shelter was not enough to help these families change the trajectory of their lives. “We provide whole-family care,” says Saint John’s Director of Development Sasha Wirth. “We address physical, mental, spiritual, educational, and logistical challenges, and we offer the tools needed to build confidence and 116 | December 2018 self-sufficiency, so these women and children become contributing members of society.” Services include mental health therapy, alcohol and drug counseling, family and individual counseling, a high school completion program, life skills classes such as parenting, budgeting, and employment training. Three Saint John’s social enterprises, Plates Café, Plates Midtown, and First Steps Child Care, provide participants with hands- on job training. “We serve 270 women and children daily and up to 1,000 annually,” notes Wirth, “but still have 250-300 on our waiting list daily. Our pressing goal is to dramatically reduce the number of women and children waiting to enter, and to provide even more employment training opportunities with the launch of an additional social enterprise. We rely largely on community donations SAINTJOHNSPROGRAM.ORG to operate this program and to achieve forthcoming goals.” Having reduced its reliance on public funding from 70 percent in 2007 to less than 30 percent in 2018, Saint John’s greatly appreciates monetary donations, clothing and household items, and volunteer time. “We also encourage the community to dine or hold events at our restaurants, and/or to hire Plates to cater your corporate or personal events,” says Wirth. profile generously sponsored by