Irene Frechette

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  • #733

    Irene Frechette

    Hi Bill — this is Irene in Massachusetts – we do not do background checks on our investigators. I remember that one the Vincentian Groups were being requested to do so. They were holding their meetings on church property. We do not hold our meetings on church property, therefore, there are no restrictions concerning background. As good Vincentians we try to be non-judgemental

  • #696

    Irene Frechette

    Hi Betty
    Does your conference have their own helpline/voicemail?
    Anyone who stops by the parish office in my area is given the SVDP helpline telephone number and asked to call. We check for voicemail at least once a day and call the folks back to make an appointment for a home visit

  • #685

    Irene Frechette

    Hi Terry
    this is Irene Frechette, I will search our documents and get back to you later today

  • #675

    Irene Frechette

    Judith Coleman in the NE Region, Fall River Diocese has experience with
    a micro-loan program. I will have her respond

  • #671

    Irene Frechette

    Great idea, I will ask Tom Mulloy to pose that question in the E-Gazette

  • #667

    Irene Frechette

    The situations that you have uncovered are exactly what I thought of upon reading your original question
    The other factor is location. What may be available in one area may not be available in another.
    I really think that this may be an opportunity for the enterprise model, where you, yourself, or your team contact business owners in your area and offer them the chance to work with you and the people that you serve

  • #665

    Irene Frechette

    Good Evening Ian
    An interesting inquiry
    I will share this with Tom Mulloy in our National Office and see if he can come up with any information

  • #643

    Irene Frechette

    St. John Providence, Catholic agencies in Detroit support anti-poverty initiative
    August 15, 2016
    Jesse Maybin and LaRenda Lauchié know they’ve made some wrong turns in life.
    Maybin, 37, survived a childhood filled with violence and abuse. He joined a gang at 11, became a father at 13 and by age 17 he was in prison for armed robbery and carjacking. Released late last year after almost 20 years, he is trying to find a path that won’t lead him back to jail and might help other young people to avoid his mistakes.

    Lauchié, 51, said she has spent “the last 35 years of my life in and out of addiction.” Her drugs of choice included marijuana, crack cocaine, heroin and cigarettes, she said, adding with a laugh, “I’m still on the cigarettes.” Clean for more than a year — “an accomplishment I had never made before” — she has a job and is studying business management with an eye toward working in the hotel or restaurant industry.
    The two are among dozens of Detroit residents finding hope for the future through Bridges to HOPE, an acronym for Helping Others Prosper through Empowerment. The program is co-sponsored by St. John Providence Health System, a part of Ascension Health; the Society of St. Vincent de Paul; and Catholic Charities of Southeast Michigan.

    Alberta Sullivan gestures during a discussion at a Detroit Bridges to HOPE workshop May 17.
    (Photo by: Karl Ford/Courtesy of Bridges to HOPE)
    Participants in the program are called “investigators,” because they are responsible for locating resources in the community that might help with their long-term or short-term goals. These might include a health center, a utility company, a mortgage lender, an income tax preparation service or a wide variety of other local spots.
    They report back to their fellow investigators about what they have found in terms of factual information but also on “their experience in terms of dealing in these areas,” said Cassandra Jackson, program manager for Detroit Bridges to HOPE. Those who have encountered problems might receive guidance on handling the situation differently or prompt the program leaders, called facilitators, to advocate on their behalf in the community.
    The eight-week program is made up of twice-weekly, two-hour sessions that begin with a meal. It is based on the book Getting Ahead in a Just-Gettin’-By World: Building Your Resources for a Better Life by Philip E. DeVol.
    Participants receive a $25 gift card at each session, although some choose to receive the $400 total as a lump sum at the end of the course, Jackson said.
    The goals of Bridges to HOPE, according to program literature, are to “identify and solve problems in a safe and stimulating environment, complete a self-assessment of their own personal re–sources, develop a blueprint to get ahead and gather support to build resources.”
    In a city where nearly 40 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, participants learn about the “hidden rules” &mdash the unspoken cues and habits — that might be preventing them from moving out of generational poverty, Jackson said.
    “We go back to the mental models of poverty and talk about … the middle class and the wealthy class,” she said. “There is a discussion about how basically our community is set up kind of in a middle-class category, and we learn how to navigate in a system that is set up that way.”
    Each participant sets his or her own short-term and long-term goals; these may include continued sobriety, raising a down payment for a new home, quitting smoking or finding work. They then investigate the specific resources that could help them reach their goals.
    But they also learn skills to help cope with what Jackson calls “the tyranny of the moment” — the unexpected obstacles that might delay achieving their goals.

    Margo Henderson, far right, addresses other “investigators” during a Detroit Bridges to HOPE workshop May 17.
    (Photo by: Karl Ford/Courtesy of Bridges to HOPE)
    “We know life happens, and even for those who are motivated, when something happens you have to prioritize,” she said. “It’s about survival,” Jackson said. “We help them to develop skills to get resources even in the midst of that.”
    Lauchié, who has completed the program and been paired with a mentor for a year of follow-up, and Maybin, who at the time he spoke to Catholic Health World was in the middle of his sessions, had already taken some of the program’s lessons to heart.
    “I want to start my own business talking to different people and sharing my story,” Maybin said. To achieve that goal, “I have to be mature, make positive decisions to not reoffend, communicate with words instead of violence, and build a support system, so that when I need help I can get some advice,” he said.
    Lauchié, who wants to work in the hospitality industry, has some short-term steps clearly in mind.
    “I want to be able to present myself appropriately,” she said. In addition to school and a job, she is doing some volunteer work, attending Narcotics Anonymous meetings and has “committed myself to the church.”
    Lauchié said Bridges to HOPE “teaches you to utilize your skills and knowledge and that is priceless. It motivates you to reach for something and to do more.”

    Copyright © 2016 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States
    For reprint permission, contact Betty Crosby or call (314) 253-3477.

  • #633

    Irene Frechette

    Tom Pelger offered the following advise – At week 10 of our 18 week class, investigators and mentors used the Planning Backwards exercise at the end of Module 5 to plan how they were going to investigate one of the aspects of our community from Module 8. We gave them 4 weeks before the investigators presented their conclusions. As you have observed, our mentors reported that the investigations were challenging, if you are seeking hard local data, even for well educated & connected middle / upper class people. In the end, many of the T / F assessments were judgment calls based on whatever they could find.
    In my view, finding the right / best answer isn’t the point. It is the process of looking at the environment in which they struggle through a critical objective lens that can be educational and empowering for the investigators. By engaging their mentors in the process, they had a chance to practice planning towards a future goal together. Relationships began to be formed. Also our mentors gained an appreciation for how our community makes it very hard for people without resources to get ahead. Some witnessed first hand the contempt in which poor are treated by people whose job it is to help (eg librarians).

  • #632

    Irene Frechette

    Kathy J from the Attleboro, MA District answered – GA proved to be a learning experience for not only the investigators but Diana, Irene and myself as well. We also struggled as to how to deal with this Module. We decided to break up the Community Assessment portion of Module 8, we assigned one investigator and a mentor or facilitator to each of the nine sections, giving each “team” one week to complete their assignment. As we had investigators from several towns in the class, they used the information for the town in which they lived. They used information which they found online, talked to local politicians, police, fire, bankers etc. We were also able to use information from the Boston Globe which, at the time we were researching the material, was running a series of articles on poverty. I hope this helps you make your way through this module. Kathy Jaaskelainen

  • #631

    Irene Frechette

    I am Diana Reeves, co-facilitator with Kathy J. in Attleboro, MA who has already clearly described the process we went through in working on Module 8. A few additional thoughts:
    We tried to assign a research category that dove-tailed an interest of the investigator eg. healthcare went to a person who had suffered a major medical crisis, housing went to a person who had finally accomplished renting an apartment in a much better place etc.

    As Kathy said, we paired our investigators with someone willing/knowledgable/ available to help them. Some investigators preferred to work alone.

    A major goal of this module, we soon realized, was having the investigators begin to build their social and bridging capital by moving out of their comfort zones to ask questions of folks they had never previously met.

    We suggested that each investigator research the questions as they would apply to the town in which he/she lived as not all came from the same place.

    It took almost two meetings for everyone to share their findings, and we invited mentors/helpers to come for that piece. A large classroom grid was created as research findings were shared.

    Our investigators learned that they were more capable than they first perceived, and that they had something valuable to contribute to the learning of the total group.
    Hope these ideas help!

  • #618

    Irene Frechette

    Spirituality, Empowerment, Mentoring, Advocacy, Inclusion, Collaboration, Social Capital

    Society of St. Vincent de Paul
    Tucson Diocesan Council
    June 2, 2016

    Getting Ahead Graduation
    Program number Two: Tucson, Arizona
    By Christine Krikliwy

    Nine single Moms, who felt that life had dealt them a bad hand were interviewed and recruited to the “Getting Ahead” program. These nine, unsure of themselves embarked on this journey amidst strangers and the unknown, led by co-facilitators Cheryl Overton and Verma Eldridge. Tom Jefferson, as chair of the Getting Ahead Committee, coordinated all aspects of the program.

    After sixteen week, they graduated, filled with hope and joy. The end of one chapter and the beginning of a new one, where they felt confident that they could implement their plans to achieve their “future story”. To celebrate their success, more than seventy people attended the graduation. Several individuals who had graduated from the previous program joined their fellow graduates to celebrate their success.

    One of the co-facilitator, Cheryl Overton, began each session with a spiritual reflection, which followed with an interactive discussion of their lives in relationship to the reflection. Their favorite reflection was St. Francis’ Prayer of Peace; it resonated deeply within each of them. During the first session, they read it three times, each one of them reading a different line each time. The following week they read it again and again.

    Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.
    Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
    Where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith;
    Where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light;
    Where there is sadness, joy.

    O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
    To be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love.

    For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
    And it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.

    The spirituality moved several of the graduates, one said “I know God has a plan for me” another wanted to come back to the Church and another had her daughter make her First Communion.

    The Bishop’s visit to the program enthralled the graduates. After interacting with the Bishop, they were so moved that they requested the Bishop to bless their meal, and before the Bishop left requested a personal prayer and blessing.

    The graduates searched and reflected deeply into their lives. Each of them created a life plan and a poster board displaying their past, present and future plans. All of them spoke individually at the podium (some in public for the first time), many of them cried, sharing with us the deep meaning this program has had on their lives.

    Their children formed friendships with each other and the teachers in attendance. They ate dinner together, played games, and did homework. They looked forward to their evening at the program and the outdoor games with Bob and Joan Sicilian. Joan Grecchi worked with the children creating Mother’s Day cards for their mothers.

    As participants were recruited for the program so were Mentors. Not all mentors are Vincentians, but through the training and material provided they grow spiritually and begin to think and act like Vincentians. The mentors come from different backgrounds: teaching, social justice and business.
    They are matched up accordingly with the graduates’ needs and requirements and assist the graduate in achieving success. They accompany the graduate on their journey out of poverty. They allow them to think and act independently and navigate them through community resources. Often there is more than one mentor, especially if home visits are to be made or the mentor is unavailable. Mentors and graduates form a close relationship, and the mentor is available to the graduate at all times. Mentoring is an extremely important tool, helping the graduate implement what they have learned, making their “future plan” become a reality.
    At the graduation, I shared some wisdom from Socrates, Einstein and Churchill with the graduates. Socrates encouraged individuals to create and follow a code that focuses on what is good and true. Einstein said that the most precious things in life are free, and imagination is everything, it is a preview of life’s coming attractions. Churchill stated that success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm; therefore, never, never, never give up and always believe in yourself.

    Josefina Cardenas, a GA graduate from a previous program, gave an inspirational talk about the possibilities ahead and the contribution that the graduates can now make to their community.

    Nine single Mums, total strangers came together and after sixteen weeks, shared their graduation with each other and their families with tears of joy. During the program they bonded, were rejuvenated; and within the friendships they created they shared laughter, song and tears, and through the trust that was built could count on each other. They were blessed with hope, friendships and mentors that would last a lifetime.

    Giulio Grecchi ended the graduation ceremony with the:

    “Discernment Prayer by St. Francis Xavier Cabrini”

    My Jesus,
    I have not always recognized
    your loving plans for me.

    Every day, with the help of your light,
    I learn more of your loving care.

    Continue to increase my awareness of the gentleness of
    your loving plans.
    I want to follow the purpose
    for which I was created.
    See, I am in your hands.

    I need you to help me choose
    the best way to serve you.

    Walk with me, Jesus.
    Stay by my side and guide me! Amen


  • #601

    Irene Frechette

    And Jeanne Harper offered this in addition to Tom Pelger’s answers
    First, Tom G — thanks for the Question!!
    Getting Ahead Facilitator book – speaks of doing all the assignments in class — which we did in the first couple of sessions in our first class. From then on usually module II — the group has decided which exercises they COULD or wanted to or needed to do (because it would take more thought than they can do in class) OUTSIDE of class.

    We also met the needs of the variety of investigators during the last five years….meaning – in some cases, they created partners within the group to work on their assignment outside of class TOGETHER — or we met with them for 1/2 hour after our regular sessions to review and review the assignment instructions — once they did one or two of each exercise – they were able to do the rest themselves. Also they could ask their home visitors/mentors to work with them on some of the assignments — especially the Community assessment and Resources.
    Twice a week is good for a couple of weeks — to get through Module 1 to 4 — but then slowing it down seems a need for most of our investigators. The Investigators design when we meet and they talk about this together.

    Personally, if you are doing all the homework in class, this may work just fine – meeting twice a week, but then no or limited homework. That is a big commitment of time in one week.
    Blessings on your work.

  • #600

    Irene Frechette

    Tom Pelger offers the following advise to Tom Ganzalez’ additional questions.
    In our experience, at least with the investigators we’ve had in our first two classes, counting on them to be able to do homework between sessions is a real stretch. When we tried that, we found we had to take the time anyway in the class for the exercise, as most had not done the work. The instability of poverty with no time off from work, long commutes to jobs by bus and walking, sick children, kids in trouble at school, etc etc leave very little time for extra work and quiet thinking time outside of class. Our investigators demographic is urban black, generational poverty, single parents. Jeanne Harper talked of out of class work in her webinar but her setting (rural, white, more situational poverty – my impression) may provide more stability than our experience.

    The one real homework exercise we tried with our second class was the community assessment. We made that a joint exercise between investigators and their mentors (mentors in support role; with goal of relationship building also). We made the assignment in conjunction with the Planning Backward exercise (pp 115-116), and gave them 4 weeks to do the work, before their verbal reports at a session that included their mentors. Even with 4 weeks, and with the opportunity for help of their mentors, several struggled to do the work.

    That is a long answer to your question. If your group is able to meet twice a week, I wouldn’t count on any homework….plan on all exercises and discussion occurring in class. Be prepared for it taking longer than you think. If your investigators’ stability is better than ours, any work they are able to do outside of class will be a bonus. Remember though that unless you are willing to leave someone behind, you can only go as fast as your slowest investigators.

  • #599

    Irene Frechette

    This is Tom Gonzalez again from the Tacoma-Pierce County Council. We were thinking of having a month of 2 sessions per week. In your experience, how much time do investigators need to prepare for each meeting? Does having sessions on Tuesday and then Thursday give investigators enough time to do what is required in their workbooks?

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