I have been a volunteer caseworker and a member of the Board for 10 years. Currently serving as Chair of the Development Committee (and former President) of Samaritan Ministry, I was first drawn to the Next Step Program where I saw an opportunity to help individuals in a city where homelessness, poverty, unemployment and unmet medical needs were great. As a caseworker, I’m never sure who I will be seeing, but I do know two things: first - whoever is sitting across from me will be very different from me, and second - that individual will be much the same as me. Different, because of gender, race, age and level of education, access to medical care, family stability, and safety in his neighborhood. How then, might he be the same? Like many, I have family and friends who have confronted alcohol addiction and severe depression, and I have experienced loss through the death of family members and from a job I had enjoyed. Most of our lives have been touched directly or indirectly by these challenges, or variations of them, because we are all human: we suffer, we have ambitions, we have gains and losses, a need for recognition, and a need for compassion. During these meetings with our participants I follow up with steps the participant had set for himself, and ask what steps he plans to take next. He’s likely to be looking for a job, housing, computer mentoring, or low cost medical help - and he may also be looking for a fresh start. There are some who are trying to earn enough money to rent an apartment, who already have part time jobs and need a second job - and are willing to work 12 or 16 hour days. Or those who have jobs and get up at 4 in the morning to make connections for three different busses to arrive at work by 7 am. It is profoundly moving for me during these conversations. Here is a human being in need, and he is describing situations I cannot imagine having to confront. In addition to setting next steps together, sometimes we share stories, sometimes we laugh, and sometimes I wipe away tears. Two human beings have made a connection. At Samaritan Ministry we are all called participants: those who come for help in the Next Step Program as well as staff and volunteers alike. We all participate in the process of transforming lives - the lives of those who walk through our doors and those of us who are there to meet with them.
After having spent much time working as a volunteer with nonprofit groups in Chicago, I sought an opportunity to work with an organization which helped people to become self-sufficient. Because of her previous association, my wife directed me to SamaritanMinistry's Next Step Program. She urged me to volunteer to work in one of the offices in order to "learn what they really do." My wife was right. During this period, I believe that I received more personal benefit (in understanding and appreciating human needs) than benefits that I might have provided to others. As a result of this experience, I ended up participating on the Development Committee of the Board. That led to joining the Board and participation on various other committees and in various other activities.
This review is for the Food and Shelter 2010 campaign. I have been a representative from my parish to Samaritan Minstry for 8 years, and a Board member for 4 years. I am currently President of the Board of Samaritan Ministry. I have seen how its Next Step program builds up a sense of self-worth and empowerment in those who come to Samaritan Ministry for help. The Next Step program gives individual attention to each program participant and helps each determine for themselves what their next steps need to be -- such as getting a GED, obtaining a non-driver id card, finishing their resume, finding permanent housing, and applying on-line for jobs using the computers at Samaritan Ministry. I helped one ex-offender who thought he was barred from practicing his vocation as a medical therapist determine that there was no legal bar, and he just needed to study and retake his boards to restart his career again. The Next Step program not only gives extraordinary one-on-one help to participants, it enables volunteers to give extraordinary one-on-one help, thereby enriching enormously the lives of those who volunteer at Samaritan Ministry.
I have been a liason to the Ministry from my parish for about six years,and was Chair of the Development Committee served on the Board for more than three years. These opportunities have given me so much pleasure, and have really changed my life. It is a privilege to work with such committed volunteers as well as with the wonderful staff - all such caring people! Observing with how much respect everyone treats the brave men and women who come to us, determined to change their lives, and how much hope and guidance these participants are given is truly remarkable.
I have served on the Board of Directors and various Board commitees for Samaritan Ministry over the past twelve years and am proud of the record of the ministry to help members of the the diadvantaged community to help themselves better their lives through the Next Step program. The program involves a one-on-one relationship between a participant and a caseworker, and the program participant takes ownershiip of the process by setting measurable goals to achieve a result, such as finding a job, finding housing, recovering from substance abuse, etc.
I have been a supporter of SMGW since its inception. I was a member of hte Episcopal Cparish that began this organization. I have followed its work for twenty-five years, and watched it really become focused on its mission, and develop a program "Next Step" that has truly helped thousands, by this time of people who had lamost lost hope. They have reached out to and assisted folks who are now recovering addicts, alcholics, who have been homeless, without work, people living with AIDS, and people who had lost their self-respect and dignity as human beings, and hope of anyone caring about them. This program exists on the money it is able to raise through donations, foundation grants, and govermental grants. Because it is so well run, it has beena ble to increase the number of people that they are able to serve, and to recruit volunteers to help. I am extraordinarily proud to be associated with SMGW. It is highly respected among churches and social agencies in the Washington regional area. I have become a regular donor and I encourage others to do the same. A better invetsment in helping people get their lives back on track and moving forward with hope and belief in themselves, you can't find. The individuals name their "next step" and SMGW works with them to accomplish them, one step at a time. Those in need can buy into things that they have decided upon themselves, rather than having others tell them what their next steps must be. I highly recommend this organization and its Executive Director David Downes. Janice Robinson Board Member and Donor