Frederick Pathway of Hope Helps Multiple Generations Escape Poverty

Mar 7, 2016 | by Laura Poff

Frederick Pathway of Hope Helps Generations Escape Poverty

Morrissa Travers has known Beverly Banks for nearly 10 years – since she's been coming to the Frederick, Maryland, Corps to participate in Christmas assistance. Yet Travers, caseworker at the corps, said it's only been since Banks was accepted into the Pathway of Hope initiative that she's gotten to know her.

"This (Pathway of Hope) is getting to really know the person and knowing what's going on in her family dynamics. Before, I just saw her one time every October to fill out a Christmas application and wasn't really getting time to talk to her or figure out what's going on with the family," said Travers.

When the Banks family began Pathway of Hope – a national social services initiative rolled out in the USA Southern Territory last spring that aims to end generational poverty – they needed more than just help at Christmas. Beverly Banks, the head of household, had several adult daughters, some of whom were living with her and had their children there as well. Beverly was unemployed and didn't have career aspirations; one of her daughters, Christina, was also struggling socially and didn't know how to read.

Banks's "big goals were to get her car fixed, to get her GED and get a full-time job," said Lieutenant Mike Michels, corps officer. While he admits Banks made some mistakes along the way, she was quick to recognize and rectify them. He also said that apart from getting her GED, she achieved her goals and had met all the Pathway of Hope assessment guidelines in order to graduate on Feb. 19. "She is definitely to the point that she is ready to graduate. She believes in herself."

Banks is employed full-time, has a car and, at first, was saddened to hear she was graduating; she and her family have been attending corps services regularly and the grandchildren are involved in the Frederick Corps character-building programs. She was afraid she'd have to stop all that. Once Lieutenants Mike and Cathy Michels told her they welcome them in the corps and its programs, she felt much better about graduating. She and her daughter Christina are even starting a Bible study together because of all they've learned. Lieutenant Michels said Christina has come out of her shell and is "soaking up the sermons. It's nice to know that we're making an impact across the board. The corps family has opened their arms to the kids and . . . these kids now have an outlet and they're learning." And through the Pathway of Hope partnership with the Literacy Council of Frederick County, Christina has learned to read.

"Now she's able to read a level one book by herself," said Travers, "and she's more confident. She talks more – she will tell you everything that's going on with her; she's made a lot of progress."

The next step for the Frederick Pathway of Hope initiative is to hire a full-time caseworker that can be devoted just to POH families and to garner more partnerships in the community. Morrisa said she's already in contact with two families who are awaiting initial interviews for POH, and the corps hopes to partner with Second Chance Garage and the local bus system. Second Chance Garage takes in donated cars, fixes them and sells them to low-income families, and Morrisa said some families will be able to ride the bus to their appointments once they've gotten a discount ticket partnership going. She's also thankful to the Sheets Convenience Store for donating a year's worth of gas cards to help the Banks family get back and forth to their appointments.

Because Travers also works with regular social services clients, she said it's a marked difference in seeing the Pathway of Hope clients because they're coming in so often that she sees them not just at their point of emergency, but also on regular days when they are calm and collected. They tend to open up more because they're not so stressed – they have hope.

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