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PEOPLE HELPING PEOPLE: Rainbow Vilage

Did you know that the average age of a homeless person is 9 years old? Rainbow Village is working every day to eradicate the suffering that accompanies homelessness, poverty and domestic violence.

For the past 21 years, Rainbow Village has served as a community of hope for homeless families with children in need of a significant life change. We are not a shelter. We do not provide temporary assistance. We provide a one-two year program that gives families a safe, secure, fully furnished home, while engaging both the adults and children in an intense life changing program.

We firmly believe in the concept of providing a hand up and not a hand out. Once families enter our doors, they immediately begin attending twice weekly classes focusing on positive parenting, personal and family development, financial literacy, home management, and job readiness, among others. In addition, they meet weekly with their case manager who works with them to streamline their goals and plan ways to achieve them. Regular meetings with their financial counselor helps ensure they begin implementing the basic financial responsibilities of savings, making a budget, and increasing their credit score. Mental health counseling sessions are held on a weekly basis as most of the Rainbow Village residents have lived through traumatic times. Our workforce development program assists families with obtaining higher education or certification needed for career development, and classes are taught on interviewing skills, resume writing, and career enhancement.

While the adults are busy learning how to establish their goals and plans, the children are not left out. Every school aged child attends the Rainbow Village After-School program where they are provided tutoring and special assistance as needed. Since only 25 percent of homeless children graduate from high school, it is imperative that we provide our children with all the opportunities they need to level the playing field. We realize that the greatest opportunity to truly break the cycles of homelessness, poverty and domestic violence lies with these innocent children. The children also participate in weekly Character Building classes and a wonderful program called “Big Recess.” If recess conjures up images of your childhood, then you are spot on! It is a time of organized play where these kids get to “just be kids.” Too many times, they’ve witnessed unpleasant things that children their age should never have to see or experience. We want them to enjoy the opportunity to play and have fun and enjoy being part of a community.

In conclusion, I’d like to end with a success story from a Rainbow Village family.

After spending the past 20 months with Rainbow Village working hard towards self-sufficiency, a mother and her five children will soon be moving to a home of their own. The family will move into a three bedroom home they will be renting without any financial assistance. Throughout their time at Rainbow Village, this family has made exceptional strides. When she arrived at Rainbow Village she was unemployed and had a newborn baby. She lost her job when she was unable to go back to work due to an illness from her pregnancy. She found employment quickly and sometimes works two or three jobs at a time to support her family. This determination allowed her to save more than $1,000 during her stay at RV. Her two teenage daughters also worked and contributed their earnings to the family’s expenses while maintaining good grades and participating in other activities such as ROTC. Her eldest daughter will be graduating from high school this May and is eager to attend college. She has been on multiple college tours around the state. Her two young sons are excelling as well, earning good grades in school and succeeding in the RV after school program.

Rainbow Village is a caring community that provides the necessary support to permanently break the cycles of homelessness, poverty and domestic violence.

See our website for more information. www.rainbowvillage.org