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Family Empowerment Program and Goodwill Cares: Finding Housing, Making it Home

When Lura Griffin hands a family a gift card from the Goodwill Cares program, the response is almost always the same.

“They get very excited,” she said. “They plan out what they are going to purchase at the stores and make time during the weekend to go shopping and pick out some items for their homes.”

For many of the families Ms. Griffin works with, buying their own chairs, curtains, dishes or even extra clothing seems an incredible luxury. That’s because the Family Empowerment Program of the Catholic Charities of Middle Tennessee, for which Ms. Griffin is one of three case managers, serves families who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

The Family Empowerment Program offers longterm case management for up to 24 months, one-on-one financial counseling, housing search and placement, assistance with educational goals for parents and children, connection to affordable health care, assistance with goal-setting and referrals to community resources. Families are directed to the year-old program by Metro Nashville Public Schools or other social service agencies.

Goodwill Cares comes into the picture after families have found a place to live. Many people served by the Family Empowerment Program have no furnishings whatsoever.

“They can use the Goodwill Cares gift cards to buy just about anything they need to get their home set up and inhabitable,” Griffin said.

But the relationship between Goodwill and the Family Empowerment Program does not end there.

Griffin said unemployment is often one of the barriers that prevents families from finding housing. Griffin said she has frequently directed unemployed parents to a Goodwill Career Solutions center for training and help finding a job.

“People are often referred to our program after a family crisis, such as loss of income, leaves them behind on their rent and they end up getting evicted,” she said. “They often just need a little bit of assistance to return to a stable condition in the community. Thanks to partnerships such as the one we have with Goodwill, the Family Empowerment Program is able to give them that assistance.”

Read the Fall 2015 edition of The Ambassador – Goodwill’s quarterly magazine which provides readers with stories of events, activities and the inspiring changes Goodwill is making in the lives of others.

About Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee, Inc.

For more than 55 years Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee has provided job training and job placement free of charge to people with disabilities or other barriers to employment through the sale of donated items. In 2014, Goodwill served 28,159 people in Middle and West Tennessee and placed 9.558 people in jobs. More information about Goodwill’s Career Solutions, retail stores and donation centers can be obtained online at  www.giveit2goodwill.org or by calling 1-800-545-9231

Learn more about the Goodwill Cares Program

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