Support Connection Leaders Graduate
On February 29th in Palmyra and March 1st in Lebanon, eleven individuals working with Support Connections of Lebanon County (SCLC) completed an important step in their journey toward self-sufficiency. Sharing what they have learned in their initial 4-month training at the graduation ceremony, Team Leaders shared their “dream boards” and explained the goals they have established for themselves moving forward. At the graduation ceremonies, Team Leaders from previous classes shared their successes: buying a home, starting a business, finding full time employment with benefits and completing college coursework toward a college degree.
Most of this year’s graduates have chosen to move to the support team phase of the SCLC approach that will span 18 months. Each Team Leader will be matched with 2 or 3 volunteer Team Mates to form a support team. The Leader and their support team will meet twice a month to develop strategies, track performance and achieve results as they address the goals.
SCLC began its anti-poverty work in Palmyra in 2011 and expanded to Lebanon in 2015, thanks to a United Way Community Needs Impact Grant. Working with low income families and individuals, SCLC meets weekly for a fellowship meal and training with childcare provided. In addition, SCLC conducts poverty simulations to help raise community awareness about poverty. To register for the upcoming poverty simulation on March 30th at the Salvation Army or to volunteer to help with the weekly meetings, contact Lee Smedley at email@example.com or go the SCLC website, www.sclclebco.org
NO HAND OUTS FOR US! We're looking for a HAND UP! Will You Join us as a Team Mate?
Support Connections of Lebanon County has been working with 10 low income individuals (Team Leaders) and their families at weekly dinner meetings since late October. In March, they will complete training and be available for matching with volunteer Team Mates, companions on their journey to achieve goals for moving toward self- sufficiency.
Call, Text, Email
Lee Smedley, Exec Director of SCLC , at 610-914-3846 firstname.lastname@example.org
Sign up for the Team Mate training or to serve as a volunteer with food service or childcare.
Visit our website!
Visit a Meeting
Contact Lee and schedule a visit to one of our dinner meetings, Tuesday nights - childcare provided.
Kevin was frustrated and you could tell by the look on his face.
With three convictions at age 44, including one for robbery, he’d just lost the only job he could find, as a dishwasher, because he was late after checking in with his parole officer.
Not making the appointment might have meant going back to jail, but now he was without a job. With a track record of infidelity, he knew his wife was not going to be happy when he broke the news to her.
The scene was one of many played out at the Lebanon Valley Family YMCA on Saturday during a poverty simulation sponsored by the Y and Support Connections of Lebanon County.
“Kevin” was actually 15-year-old Christopher Martinez, a ninth grader at Lebanon High School, with a far brighter future then the man he portrayed. He was the youngest of about 40 participants who learned some valuable lessons by taking part in the three-hour workshop called The Cost of Poverty Experience or COPE.
“I learned that everybody takes things for granted,” said Martinez, who took part with his parents Luis and Carmen Martinez. “We don’t really know what people go through.”
That’s the lesson of COPE, said facilitator Lee Smedley, director of Support Connections of Lebanon County, an organization of volunteers who work with low-income families to help them rise to middle class status.
“Until we realize how different it is for low income families, we really can’t do much to help them,” he said.
COPE was created by Think Tank Inc., an Ohio-based organization that develops programs used by other groups to helping individuals in their communities break the cycle of poverty.
Smedley has facilitated several COPE workshops and was pleased with Saturday’s turnout where participants were matched together at random and given roles based on real life poverty scenarios.
The roles ranged from large families to single-parent households. Several contained individuals struggling with substance abuse problems, while others had members dealing with mental or physical health issues – all of them living well below the poverty level.
Also participating were volunteers who assisted by representing various societal institutions including schools, the probation department, county human service agencies, banks, and the courts. There was even a neighborhood grocery store and a pawn shop, were some sold possessions to make ends meet.
The workshop was broken down into four 15-minute sessions followed by a 10-minute review, each representing a hectic week in which the individuals had to accomplish tasks specific to their life circumstances.
With limited money, otherwise simple tasks like finding transportation to make a medical appointment or arranging day care, became stressful dilemmas.
In the terminology of the COPE workshop, it was called living in “the tyranny of the moment.”
The participants shared their thoughts during a discussion period that culminated the poverty simulation.
Jan Wessell, a member of Support Connections who has assisted in several COPE simulations and filled the role of a health clinic representative, said she observed a change in attitude as the participants became frustrated by the hurdles they had to jump over to accomplish daily tasks.
“It was interesting watching the room as time went on," she said. "The momentum really changed. Everyone was really energized the first week. But that just went down and by the end everybody was just going through their paces.”
Others remarked that the system made it easier to look for benefits than it did for work. And more than one person admitted considering doing something illegal to improve their condition.
“That is very easy for those of us sitting in comfortable places to dismiss,” Smedley noted. “But for a certain segment of our society, that is very tempting.”
Laura Nelson, a home-educator from Robesonia who attended the simulation with others from On Fire Ministries in Myerstown, said the experience was eye opening.
“I had the feeling that no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t improve my situation,” she said. “I had a feeling of hopelessness.”
The COPE workshop was the kickoff of several events scheduled this week to commemorate National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. It was paid for with a United Way Community Needs grant awarded to Support Connections of Lebanon County.
Smedley says there is money to conduct another COPE workshop. He encouraged interested agencies, schools and other organizations who could supply at least 40 to 50 participants to contact him at 616-914-3846.
To learn more about Support Connections of Lebanon County, including how to volunteer, visit sclclebco.org or check out its Facebook page.
On Nov. 14, more than 50 people will gather to experience what a month living in poverty feels like.
(To register or to volunteer to assist with the program, visit www.sclclebco.org or call 610-914-3846. Deadline for registration is Wednesday, Nov. 11.)
The Cost of Poverty Experience simulation will be from 9 a.m. to noon at the Lebanon Valley Family YMCA, 201 N. Seventh St., Lebanon, and is open to the public. Pre-registration is required.
Participants will experience the day-to-day challenges of living in poverty. They will be given identities and a profile of employment, health and other features of typical families. In a compressed timeframe, they will have face-to-face interactions about public transportation, social services, finances, employment, food and shelter.
Networking with a mission to assist poor
By Marylouise Sholly For The Lebanon Daily News
The newly revamped "Palmyra Circles Initiative," an anti-poverty force, is expanding into Lebanon city.
By way of making connections to and relationships with middle and upper-class folks, the poor are being helped on their way to a better life.
With the Palmyra group's expansion into Lebanon and the larger geographic perspective comes a new name, "Support Connections of Lebanon County."
Started about four years ago, the goal of the non-profit group is to build relationships across class lines to help low income people break out of the prison of poverty.
The first step is to make others aware of the problems facing those families.
One observation from Lee Smedley, one of the founders of the Palmyra Circles Initiative, and volunteer executive director of SCLC, is that people in society who make the economic decisions that affect others aren't in the trenches with the people who are struggling to make it through every day.
Families may be working hard, he said, but still not be able to break out of poverty.
Poverty in Lebanon County is real, Smedley said, with one out of three families in Lebanon not being able to meet their basic living expenses.
Circles in the News!
Support Circles of Lebanon County is on the Move. We began as Palmyra Circles and with new opportunities, a first non-profit corporation and a growing number of partners and friends we've taken on a new name, a new web site and an expanded future.
As we create this new reality on the way to 2016 this web site will have more to offer. For now we're moving and this is a step along the way. Join in the mission of improving life together.
Contact us to learn more: Lee Smedley or 610-914-3816
SCLC, 520 E. Birch St., Palmyra, PA 17078