March 25, 2014 – 12:50 am | No Comment
Ripple of One is breaking the cycle of generational poverty, one person at a time. Through encouragement and incentives, dozens of women are finding success in a form that, by example, teaches their children to succeed. And thus, the ripple begins.
“Our goal is to teach a struggling parent how to emerge from poverty versus supporting them while in poverty,” explained Stephanie Enders, who formed Ripple of One in 2011 and continues to lead the Seneca-based organization today.
“Most of our participants are single mothers, but we also help the fathers who are in need. These are parents that are in very desperate situations,” Enders said. “When they come to us, they’re spiraling downward and can’t find a way to stop. It can be difficult to change a style of living or a way of thinking that was created over a lifetime. This is why Ripple of One incentivizes parents to break bad habits and make better choices. With lots of encouragement, they will succeed and so will their children.”
Having succeeded in attaining many of her initial goals, Rebecca Roach, left, is one of four Ripple clients who will soon become mentors for new people entering the Ripple of One program.
Currently, 12 families are being assisted by Ripple of One. Using a network of trained, unpaid citizens and professionals, families are shepherded to learn money management skills, change unhealthy lifestyles, build healthy relationships and learn health and wellness parenting techniques. Ripple has many single mothers currently in the program but also accepts two-parent families and single dads. Ripple’s newest addition is an initiative called ReBuild Real Men that empowers struggling men and fathers to be the man God has called them to be, according to Enders.
“Most of our families used to spend their paycheck as soon as it was received,” she said. “It’s the fear of not getting another paycheck and simply lack of money management skills. By discussing where their money is going versus what it could be spent on, we show them there is a better way. After making a budget they’re shown how much money they have left for savings. If they’re able to show their bank statement with an agreed upon monthly savings … we match their savings or give them another incentive of their choice.”
Being a Ripple client isn’t easy, and that’s by design. It’s a no-nonsense organization that requires participants to set goals in the areas of education, finances, employment and health, and to show ongoing improvement toward their goals.
Participants must sign a contract and abide by it agreeing to: be enrolled in GED (adult education), a trade school or college; remove all unneeded expenses (until budgeted for); attend a nutrition class; attend financial counseling; and have weekly communication with an assigned mentor.
In order to receive either financial incentives or community activity incentives made possible by program supporters, clients must provide proof of cancellation of unneeded expenses, as well as check stubs and bank statements.
Lack of follow-through with program goals results in discontinuation. The waiting list for entry currently stands at five.
However, successes have far outweighed failures in the short history of Ripple of One. Families have moved from government assistance to self-sufficiency. Parents have completed their basic education and gone on to a higher level of study. Many parents have also progressed from low-skilled, low-pay, part-time jobs to higher-skilled employment.
And, most importantly, Ripple parents are demonstrating to their children a new model of how to live their lives.
All proceeds will be used to provide monthly goal incentives. For example, for education, the participant is rewarded for registering for school, good grades/high attendance record and graduation. For financial, they are given points for attending their monthly financial coach appointment, showing they’ve stayed on budget and bringing in the proper paperwork. For employment it’s for reaching weekly application goals, obtaining a good 90-day employer evaluation and for any promotions. For health, they are rewarded for obtaining their weight and exercise goals. Matching savings account incentives do not go into the participant’s personal bank account, but are deposited into their Ripple account. They can only retrieve this money for emergencies.With the help of local companies and non-profits, Ripple pays interns $7.25 to $7.75 per hour, which is deposited into their Ripple account. This money is spent on budgeted living expenses.
“We believe we are empowering families to move beyond government assistance and into their full God-given potential,” Enders said. “We appreciate all who have helped us do this for so many already and look forward to engaging both new supporters and more program participants.”
By Brett McLaughlin
(reprinted with consent of The Seneca Journal)