“I remember making a promise to myself and God that I wasn’t going to become another statistic,” stated Dejonea Anderson, client and keynote speaker. “A week later I was introduced to Pathways to Progress.”
The night of September 8, 2022, was an evening filled with tears and celebration as 13 Members (clients) graduated from St. Francis Community Services’ Pathways to Progress program.
Graduates walked along the stage of Savoy Banquet Center in Florissant, Missouri towards their certificate of achievement, recognizing their hard work to overcome the barriers in their life. Each member vulnerably and bravely stepped up to the podium to disclose their story of struggle, growth, and success.
“I was lost,” stated one graduate. “I was ashamed of being so old and needing so much help to care for myself and children … When Pathways to Progress came into my life, it was a blessing both mentally and spiritually.”
Unlike most traditional social services programs, Pathways to Progress provides individualized, wrap-around case management and support for families for several years (usually 2-4) so they receive exactly what they need to move forward. Support from Member Advisors (case managers) and access to legal aid, both provided by St. Francis Community Services, are the heart of the program.
“I want to thank you for believing in me when I couldn’t even believe in myself,” voiced a graduate through tears.
Member Advisors provide individualized support, encouragement, connections to resources, and accountability. While each person faces unique challenges, many clients want to improve their education or find employment that pays a living wage. They may be working to find better housing, reduce debt, or enhance parenting skills. One graduate thanked her Member Advisor for helping with her crisis pregnancy and encouraging her to keep going when she wanted to give up. Whatever their goals or concerns, our Member Advisors are able to provide resources and form relationships to assist them.
“I am so proud of our Pathways graduates,” exclaimed Maryn Olsen, Program Director of Pathways to Progress. “They have shown tenacity, determination, and hope that life can be better. I am grateful that these women have allowed us to walk with them on their journey over the past several years, through joys, deep sorrows, and so much growing and learning.”
With the support needed to thrive, the results are impressive. Last year, 86% of Members improved their ability to meet their financial obligations or accumulated savings. 84% maintained or improved their housing situation. 91% improved their education or job training skills, and 95% of children in the program have maintained or improved their school performance.
Congratulations to the Pathways to Progress graduates, Class of 2022! We look forward to seeing all you are able to achieve in the future.