The Supportive Parents Information Network (SPIN) is a grassroots organization that has successfully taken on the enormous challenge of lifting women out of poverty in San Diego for the past 13 years. SPIN provides assistance in many shapes and forms to San Diego’s under class: women and children living at or below the federal poverty line.
SPIN operates on a bare bones budget with the help of volunteers who are current or past clients. SPIN’s (unpaid, volunteer) director, Joni Halpren, knows that they can’t solve all of their client’s problems but she realizes that it does not take very much at all to make a huge difference in their lives. Ms. Halpern feels that all it takes is a little attention, compassion, and involvement.
“The power of love and the confidence in the ability of each of us to do good!!”
SPIN tackles important local social and political issues. San Diego County is one of the hardest counties to get public assistance and food stamps. When the organization’s members continually ran up against the County’s practice of limiting access to Food Stamps and other forms of assistance, SPIN began documenting the barriers. SPIN, along with other advocacy groups, provided a report to the County Supervisors with 69 recommendations calling for systemic change that would allow greater access to the resources for poor women and children in California. In response, the County Board of Supervisors hired a special investigator to investigate the allegations and to review the recommendations put forth by these organizations. The investigator concurred with the findings and they have been forwarded to the HSSA.
SPIN is hopeful many of the recommendations to improve low-income assistance will be put into practice. Their advocacy work has gained a positive move forward for low-income individuals in San Diego. SPIN is special in that their programs are led by, run by, directed by and utilized by the poorest women in our community. By building leadership among its members, SPIN helps these women find their voice and teaches them how to use it.
SPIN also runs a Tutorial and Scholarship program where every two weeks clients and their children (ages 3-17) meet at the First United Methodist Church in Mission Valley to support learning. Tutors are provided thru an internship mechanism, but they are few and SPIN is always looking for volunteers to spend two hours every other week helping kids learn science, math and reading.
Currently, they lack the resources to strategically plan beyond helping clients with day-to-day issue. SPIN wants to be able to serve more women in an effective and efficient way.
“Women Give San Diego was drawn to SPIN because their work is deep down in the trenches,” Dana White, WGSD Grants Committee member. Women Give San Diego was able to help SPIN at a crucial point in their organization’s history. WGSD granted SPIN $10,000 over two years. The funds will be spent on creating a model for sustainability for the organization. This will be accomplished through working with a consultant and the Board of Directors. One of their goals is to hire a new Director. They also hope to be able to begin tracking outcomes, replace ancient computers, and keep abreast of the technology advances that could assist SPIN. It is time to take SPIN to the next level.
SPIN provides much needed tutoring for their children, provides food when food stamps and money dries up three weeks into each month, and teaches women how to climb out of poverty one painful step at a time. In order to continue to provide these programs and increase the efficiency and effectiveness of their services, they must improve the infrastructure of the organization. WGSD is thrilled to have the opportunity to be part of this next step.
Written by Dana White, WGSD Member