Supportive Parents Information Network
SPIN’s Board took the feedback they received from WGSD last year to heart and have been working relentlessly to gain experience in processes, strategic planning and effective communication. The Board consists of 10 members five of whom are former clients that bring expertise about poverty and how to gain self-sufficiency; the other five are professionals whose experience with poverty is either distant or non-existent. As you can imagine these two groups might approach governance very differently. This year started with a commitment to ensure that the Board could communicate with each other given their disparate backgrounds as well as with SPIN’s clientele. A facilitator was brought in to help the board develop communication skill sets using the Meyers Briggs methods. Once their communications problems were under control, a strategic planner assisted the Board by providing a template they could use to modify to fit SPIN. All of SPIN’s activities and volunteer positions were reviewed in light of what is needed for SPIN to sustain their past success in helping parents and families out of poverty. This month they expect to have their strategic plan committed to paper.
Las year the 2010 WGSD grant funds were used to update SPIN offices and computing capacity as well as getting help with their strategic planning efforts. This coming year SPIN, with the help of contacts provided by WGSD members, is committed to finding transition funding to cover their operations, $200,000 for each of the next 5 years. These contacts will hopefully connect SPIN Board members with people who can help fund this organization while it garners the skills to fundraise effectively. WGSD 2011 grant funds will be used in these efforts.
One of the most important things that SPIN does for their clients (primarily women in extreme poverty) is assistance in making an individualized plan for how to get out of poverty and to reach their life goals. No matter what the client’s goal is, SPIN will look at what the personal stumbling blocks are for the individual and help them plan accordingly. For many clients it is help in getting as much education as they can while on public assistance, or help with transportation to get to work, or help with a disabled family member so that they can maintain a job. SPIN is very successful in helping their clients make that arduous climb out of poverty.
Other SPIN programs that are working well are the Scholarship Team program which tutors parents and their children twice a month and the Emergency Loan Program which is run by the parents/ clients themselves. The children in the Scholarship program are more successful in school and are graduating. The recipients of the emergency loans have become active in SPIN and have repaid their loans according to their re-payment schedule. In becoming active in SPIN clients learn how to gather and harvest the voices of the poor to self-advocate. Also the program with US Bank is still helping SPIN clients by offering special accounts that are low cost and low risk. The accounts offer SPIN clients three free money orders, an ATM card which helps the client establish a credit history and saves them about $250 per year by not using check-cashers.
Both SPIN and WGSD have been dealt a personal blow through the loss of leadership of one of their own. While Jan recovers from her surgery we are all trying to keep WGSD on track until she is able to take the reins once again. This year SPIN lost a dear friend with the death of Aida Reyes, Community Outreach Coordinator for the past 10 years. All of our prayers and thoughts are with the friends and family of these two spectacular women.
Written by Dana White, WGSD Member