Can you imagine living without hope? A staggering 15% of Georgians live in poverty and more than a third of those in poverty are children. These 1.6 million people in our state struggle each day to get to the next. All poverty, however, is not the same and they need different solutions.
Situational poverty is the loss of income due to a temporary event such as job loss, illness, or divorce. While it can have a domino effect on their finances, families in situational poverty can remain hopeful seeing this as a temporary setback. They often have deep social networks to turn to for support.
Generational poverty is the term used for families living in poverty for two generations or more. This entrenched type of poverty is characterized by hopelessness. People in generational poverty lack education and job skills and many are in single-parent families. Many caught in generational poverty are focused on survival and often feel they have no control over their lives. Often, they rely on government assistance. Though there are many kinds of poverty, people in poverty share the same anxiety, depression, isolation , fear, loss of sleep, and loss of self-esteem.
Our Life-Changing Programs
SVdP volunteers visit with people in poverty in their homes to get first-hand insight into their situation. We start by listening to their stories. Then we act by helping them with the most urgent financial needs. Next, we connect them to our own and other community resources and offer them hope for a better tomorrow.
At SVdP we have a saying that “no act of charity is foreign to the society”. Our staff and volunteers are constantly looking for new ways to address the needs of their local communities. SVdP is changing lives through:
Free Tax Preparation (VITA)
The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program is a national initiative that offers free tax help to low- to moderate-income individuals. The Society of St. Vincent de Paul Georgia is a host organization for the VITA Program each year. IRS certified and trained volunteers help prepare basic tax returns and help working families with special tax credits such as Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, and Credit for the Elderly for which they may qualify. This service saves clients the preparation cost and ensures that all credits and other deductions that provide monetary refunds are received. These cost-saving measures can make a huge impact on low and moderate-income households.
Our Family Support Centers offer a computer lab for job searches and skills enhancement.
High Interest Loan Conversion
The High Interest Loan Conversion Program is designed to provide an opportunity for SVdP Georgia to help people we serve who have high interest ‘Payday’, ‘Title’, and other loans to convert those loans to a traditional credit union personal loan. This program’s primary purpose is to provide our neighbors with an alternative to predatory lenders. Clients locked into these high interest loans often find themselves in a perpetual cycle of just paying the interest and having to refinance the principal. The inability to ‘get themselves out from under’ loans like this prevent people from becoming financially stable and self-sufficient.
Back to School Supplies
As families prepare for a new school year, obtaining the necessary supplies – which range from clothing to calculators – can be a costly feat: the average family will spend $670 this year on supplies and clothing.
That’s why each year some SVdP Georgia Conferences coordinate back-to-school events and distributions for families in need of a helping hand. Some commonly collected items include backpacks, pencils, erasers, pencil boxes, pens, colored pencils, highlighters, rulers, scissors, gluesticks, glue, folders, notebooks, folders, crayons, and markers. Contact your local Conference to learn more about how you can help.
Each year, SVdP Georgia’s Conferences participate in holiday toy drives, like the Angel Tree and other disbursement programs.
For the past four years, SVdP Georgia has also been the managing partner for Clark Howard’s Christmas Kids program. For 27 years, Clark Howard has been providing Christmas gifts to foster children in the state of Georgia. SVdP Georgia, along with WSB TV/Talk Radio, the Division of Family and Children Services, and Walmart, work with Clark to ensure that every child has gifts to open on Christmas morning.
Uplift is a Conference-sponsored program that supports a low-income family or individual over a longer term, 12 to 36 months, in order to provide an opportunity for the completion of an academic degree or professional certification. This long-term case management program offers families opportunities to improve quality of life through education. Clients work with a trained volunteer case worker to develop a plan to meet specific goals. Each client receives $5,000-$10,000 in funding to support their objectives. Uplift is not an emergency assistance program. Candidates for the program must live in the vicinity of a participating SVdP Conference. Not all Conferences operate this program.
SVdP Georgia’s Education Center will provide a permanent home to the Journey program, a robust series of educational opportunities designed to prepare clients for long-term success such as managing finances, developing a personal mission statement, and building a network of peers and mentors. The campaign will provide for a large flexible learning space that allows for various-sized group meetings and training sessions.
Situated next to the Education Center in the epicenter of the redesigned building, the Connected Classroom will seat 25-50 people and be equipped with audio, video, and computer capabilities to allow SVdP Georgia to deliver webinars and other trainings to clients and volunteers throughout the state. The classroom will also contain state-of-the-art recording capability to create content that can be stored and shared on a variety of digital platforms. These technological resources will eliminate transportation as a barrier to training and services for neighbors living in rural areas.
Earning a living-wage salary with benefits is often the first step toward true self-sufficiency, and SVdP Georgia looks forward to dedicating approximately 1,500 to 2,000 square feet to a new Jobs Center where clients can identify and secure employment. This will allow SVdP Georgia to further provide skills training, counseling, and access to computers for resume writing, job searching, and other pre-employment needs. The Jobs Center will offer a meeting space, private interview rooms, a resource center, and computer workstations. These education and employment spaces will create exciting opportunities for SVdP Georgia to collaborate with local partners to connect more people with jobs. For example, SVdP Georgia is currently forging a social entrepreneurship program with Kennesaw State University, along with a skills-based training in partnership with Atlanta Technical College and the Atlanta Center for Self Sufficiency.