Mission: The mission of M.E.R.C.Y. (Mentors, Empowerment and Resources for Change in Young families) Communities is to provide housing and supportive services to foster the independence of homeless and at-risk families.
Results: Over the past ten years we have served 138 families.
Four mothers have gone on to home ownership.
In 2009, 96 percent of transitional families moved into permanent housing upon completion of the program.
In 2009, 93 percent of permanent supportive families maintained their housing for one year or longer.
Target demographics: Homeless or at-risk parents with children between the ages of 0-18.
Direct beneficiaries per year: In 2009, we provided services to 30 mothers and their 52 children.
Geographic areas served: Sangamon County
Programs: The transitional housing program utilizes existing community services along with twenty-four hour onsite staffing, weekly case management, life skills training, job training, counseling, children's services and daily reinforcement by mentors and support staff. A family can participate in the transitional program for up to two years. An additional five years of aftercare program services are offered with the goal to sustain the gains made during the transitional phase. Currently, the transitional housing program can house ten families (up to 40 individuals). A new partnership program with a local church is providing support for an additional family. In 2005, services were expanded to include a permanent supportive housing program which offers decent, safe and affordable housing and a professional support system to help disabled families live healthy, interdependent lives, realizing their potential in homes of their own. Families can remain in this program as long as needed.
Professional with expertise in this field
I have had the opportunity to co-lead a psychoeducational therapeutic group for clients of MERCY Communities for the last four years. This group has introduced a variety of mental health topics to the residents of MERCY Communities residential programs. The topics have included the exploration of healthy relationships, sexuality, boundaries, addictive behavior, goal setting, self-care, self-esteem, parenting, domestic violence, depression and other affective disorders. In addition to providing important information to the clients, these groups have also offered an opportunity for the women to examine their own life situations, share their experiences, and receive support and feedback for their behavior and decision making.
The mental health component of the MERCY Communities program is an important addition in providing the kinds of services the clients need as they anticipate becoming self-sufficient by providing stable housing for themselves and their children.
I am happy to support the programs provided to the Springfield are by the MERCY Communities Inc, programs.
Mary L. Ossowski, LCSW
Over the past two years in my role as the director of a university volunteer center, we have had extensive contact with MERCY Communities on various service projects. Our students have assisted with spring cleaning efforts, painted apartments so families can move in, donated items to the MERCY Furniture Store, provided child care services for families, and assisted with renovations of homes for MERCY clients to include porch repair and painting. MERCY Communities does an amazing job of assisting local women and children, providing real support at a critical time. We have met some of the clients MERCY serves while working on various service projects for the agency, and can truly state that the work they are doing is changing lives and making a difference. One particular client told our students she would not have been able to become employed and become a home owner if it had not been for MERCY.