When you work for an organization like Tabor, one thing you always wonder is what does success look like for our participants years down the line? We know the short-term success – the percentage of people moving from TLC to permanent housing, for example, or the number of people that avoided foreclosure.
Our programs are designed to set people up for long-term stability, thanks to the knowledge and skills they acquire during their time working with us. But still we wonder.
Thankfully, I recently had a chance to hear from one of our “alumni” first hand. Jenn, profiled in the most recent fall newsletter, first accessed Tabor’s services 14 years ago. She wants to share her story now to inspire others struggling with homelessness, addiction, and poverty.
So, what does success look like 14 years down the line?
• It’s a woman 14 years drug free.
• It’s a mom who has clear expectations about a different path for her girls.
• It’s two daughters doing well in school.
• It’s a full-time job helping others.
• It’s a safe, affordable apartment.
• It’s a dream of buying your own home and the knowledge that organizations like Tabor can be your partners once again.
Jenn is clear-eyed about what led her to homelessness (an addiction), what inspired her to turn her life around (her daughters), and the constellation of organizations and people who helped her stay on the path to recovery and stability (among them, Tabor’s Jubilee House and Market View permanent supportive housing apartments). She has worked hard to get where she is.
My conversation with Jenn came at a perfect moment, a moment of reflection about the future, both inspiring and worrying. For months now, a team of staff, program participants, board members, and community partners have been giving input on our new strategic plan. We’ve wrestled with important questions about how we can be ever better in our pursuit of helping people realize their financial and housing goals. Jenn’s conversation crystallized for me that we can make sure that there is a clear path from crisis to eventual financial security, and even homeownership. Tabor is uniquely positioned to offer a warm handoff at each step in that (sometimes long) journey.
But this hopeful conversation also happened at a time when there are storm clouds on the horizon: homelessness in Lancaster rose slightly between 2017 and 2018. Evictions too are growing at a faster rate. The United Way of PA published a study this summer showing a full 33% of Lancaster County households are struggling to afford basic needs, despite a 3% unemployment rate. And you’ve probably all read the news reports about warning signals that another recession could be coming, which will further jeopardize the tenuous stability of those Tabor serves. We need your help to make sure we don’t lose momentum.