As a facilitator for the St. Vincent de Paul Getting Ahead program, Jennifer Kendall (pictured) helps “investigators” -program participants, to escape from poverty by connecting with the community and building their resources. It’s a mission very close to her heart –because Jennifer has been through the program herself.
I was the breadwinner for our family of 5 children. My husband has a permanent head injury and so he’s unable to work. With 5 children, money can get really tight. I have my degree in social work, however due to health issues I became unable to work. We just got behind in the bills, and we needed a little bit help getting back on track. I started calling churches, and they connected us with the Vincentians. –Jennifer Kendall.
Barbara Curp, President of Ascension Conference, met Jennifer’s family during a Home Visit in 2016. The Home Visit is a long-standing Vincentian tradition, modeled after Christ sending out his Apostles in twos to serve the community. To Vincentians, the Home Visit represents the very foundation of the ministry, personally meeting people where they are to build relationships and communities.
I was so impressed when we met Jennifer’s family. They were so very welcoming and ready to receive our help with open arms –Barbara Curp.
Realizing that you need help is often a very difficult, humbling situation, and not everyone knows quite where to go or what to do even after building the bravery to seek it.
Sometimes when you’ve not been able to work for a little while or if you’re new to a community, you just don’t know what’s out there. Getting Ahead helps you build a support group. The program invites our neighbors in to find out how they can help themselves. Opens their eyes to resources within the community, things that they can make use of, really discovering their own hidden talents. –Barbara Curp.
It was great. It really helps you know what your strengths are. Getting Ahead helps you to use your strengths to overcome your deficiencies and help you build on where you want to go. There are quite a lot of things you learn in there, about poverty, how you get stuck in the concrete of the right-now moment -It’s hard to think of the abstract, how to get out. There are just a lot of pieces that you don’t really know about your own strengths and how you can really put them to use. –Jennifer Kendall
Although Getting Ahead is life changing for its investigators, the program isn’t necessarily for everyone.
You don’t just fill out the application and come in for free lessons and dinner. You have to actually interview. We’re looking for people who are willing and eager to do the program, people who are serious about making a change. –Barbara Curp
It really is a commitment. You really have to be there every week. One of the resources we build is friendship. Every person you meet can be a friend, a connection, someone who knows about more resources, job opportunities. Not only do you miss out when you’re not there, the group is really missing out when you’re not there too. If you want to improve your situation, you want to go to this group. It’s not a class, everyone learns and investigates their own lives together. It comes easy if you really want to better yourself. –Jennifer Kendall
You’re not a student, you’re an investigator. You’re actually given investigations that you have to do to be successful in the program. You see the group grow over time, from hesitation at the beginning to a loving group of friends by the end of it –Barbara Curp
I didn’t like being in the position that I was in. But I love learning. Anything that I could do to help better myself, I was eager to do it. St. Vincent de Paul is really wonderful, and invaluable to this area. Everything they do for the community is amazing. I only wish that I could physically do more – not being able to do what I used to, it’s a difficult situation for anyone. –Jennifer Kendall
True to her word, Jennifer continues striving to improve herself and support others every day, as facilitator for Getting Ahead and in her new position as Director of Social Services with the New Lebanon Center. Jennifer also joined her local St. Vincent de Paul Conference and is now serving the community as a Vincentian.
I’m working to improve my health, my spirituality, my resources, it’s a continuous process, but I look forward to sharing what I’ve learned with others. –Jennifer Kendall