New grant to fund direct services

Believe it or not, it’s hard to give money away. We funders (including donor advised funds) often struggle with finding the right fit for our grants. We have an idea but often the local charities don’t have the capacity to do the work or, for those of us in rural areas, sometimes the charity doesn’t even exist yet.  Patience, rough starts, and errors can pay off – and usually in a bigger way than originally imagined.


Therefore we are excited to be giving a 3-year grant to We Care of Grundy County to expand their “Salvation Army Pathway of Hope” program.


Through our relationships with social services over the years, we at the Community Foundation of Grundy County have known that one-on-one direct service is the best long-term way to lift families out of crisis and into sustainability.  Problems weren’t created in a day nor can they be solved in a day.  And they’re practically impossible to do alone.  Everyone needs a “life coach” now and then.


About four years ago we searched for a model for this type of direct service.  Local social service agencies didn’t have the capacity to take it on.  We found Salvation Army’s Pathway of Hope, but it was very new to them and they weren’t yet ready to franchise it.  We approached the Grundy County Health Department who used our grant funds to expand the hours of a part-time staff to meet one-on-one with clients.  It worked in the beginning but lost steam over the year.


Then the planets began to align.  We Care moved into a larger space, took on new staff, and began looking for a direct-service model to replicate in Grundy County.  By now Salvation Army was ready to expand Pathway of Hope and a new partnership began.  The clients in Grundy were also ready for a change and they began participating in the one-on-one sessions – and sticking with them.


Pathway of Hope is specifically for families with children, but since so many We Care clients don’t have children (or children who are grown and gone), they needed funding to provide the same service to those clients who don’t qualify under the Salvation Army rules.


Hence our grant to hire an additional case worker to work with clients without children.  Same model, same procedures, more clients moved along the path to sustainability.


Salvation Army has been fantastic through all of this.  They happily trained existing and new We Care staff and welcome the partnership to impact the only reason for all of this: the clients.


This story is featured in this week’s Morris Herald-News and here’s the link:


The plan is that We Care will use these three years to bring the program up to speed as well as to develop a plan of funding and fundraising for the sustainability of the program.  If you are interested in learning more about the program and/or how your donor dollars can be structured to support this long-term effort, please feel free to contact Eric Fisher at We Care at 815-942-6389 or me at the Community Foundation of Grundy County at 815-941-0852 or [email protected]

Julianne Buck

Executive Director