Many of us go through life situations that give blows to our self-esteem, our self-worth and our confidence. Life has a way of creating a narrative to try to tell us who we are, especially at our lowest points. Causing us to need a mindset check, as well as a reminder of who we really are and the greatness that lives within. The families we serve have often experienced many of these life challenges.
So, what does empowerment mean? By definition, empowerment means power or authority given to someone. It goes further to include the process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling your life.
At Rise 2 Thrive, we tend to focus on the latter.
For us, empowerment is to see our families beyond their current crisis situation and care enough about them to help them to see the power they have within. We don’t position ourselves as an authority that can do for them what they cannot do for themselves. We align ourselves with them and provide a hand up when they need it most.
It sounds very simple. So simple that it seems trivial...Utopian almost. Build people up and send them on their way. How does this begin to address the challenges of under-resourced communities? It doesn’t. Empowerment goes way beyond motivation and inspiration. For our organization, transformation through empowerment is key.
What does this look like?
· Listening to understand, not to respond. We cannot truly help those we serve without understanding their why.
· Meeting our families where they are...not where we believe they should be.
· Providing practical support to move them beyond their crisis moment. It’s difficult to focus on long-term goals while your immediate needs have not been met.
· Providing the skills and resources families need to thrive.
· Advocating for policy and procedural change within the systems our families are involved.
How does this help?
· It allows our families to be heard and gives them a voice in changing their situation.
· We become partners with and a support system for our families while they remain accountable for achieving their goals.
· Our families are stabilized and able to focus on their service plan.
· They are able to better navigate life challenges and strategize more effectively to reach their goals.
· By influencing the systems and institutions that directly impact the outcomes our families experience.
For all these reasons, empowerment is a large focus of our programs. Specifically, our RISE Empowerment workshop. This workshop provides our families with the knowledge, skills and resources to overcome challenges they experience. During the course of this 8-week program we discuss mental and physical health, financial stability, career coaching and family building, most of which are determinants of economic mobility. Throughout this program, our families receive 1:1 coaching and case management to transform their situation. What we’ve realized and research has also proven is for under-resourced populations, poverty becomes more than a state of being...it becomes a mindset that keeps families bound for generations.
We serve to empower and work to relight the inner spark that life tried to put out.
What are your thoughts on empowerment? How does your organization empower? Let us know.