By Gwen Strough, Madison County Chamber contributing writer & content creator
THRIVE Network: Helping hardworking families achieve financial stability
“Big journeys begin with small steps.” It is a simple slogan with powerful possibilities.
Born and raised in Anderson, Indiana, Jonelle Hopgood, is a real-life example of how success can be achieved when the proper tools are made available. At 35 years old, the mother of four struggled to make ends meet even though she was working continually. She was tired and insecure and saw no way out. Then she met Sherry Peak-Davis, Executive Director of Anderson Impact Center [AIC].
Hopgood lived down the street from AIC, and said she decided to stop in one day to see what the place was all about. It was a simple step that changed her future.
“Because of what I was going through, I was emotionally drained,” she explained. “Mrs. Peak-Davis told me what it would take to get myself together and have a better life.”
The AIC staff pushed her in the right direct direction and gave her the tools to move forward. In a short period of time, her needs and goals were mapped out under a new THRIVE initiative led by United Way of Madison County in collaboration with seven other local networking agencies. In a matter of only five weeks, Hopgood completed an intense pharmacy tech program comparable to a 6 - 18 month college course. Now she is working as a full time pharmacy technician at a local CVS and has the new-found confidence to start her nursing degree.
On September 27, Hopgood shared her success story at the first of three official ribbon cuttings at Madison County locations where the THRIVE Network is offered. She said she is proud of what she has accomplished and her ability to become financially stable.
“There’s nothing like a personal testimony,” beamed Peak-Davis at the grand opening event, as she explained how one-on-one interviews with individuals such as Hopgood are an important first step in assessing the needs and goals of each participant in the program. Personalized coaches are then assigned to help these hardworking participants develop the necessary skills to get beyond the daily grind of living from paycheck to paycheck.
The Anderson Impact Center serves as the first comprehensive "Center" in the THRIVE Network with coaches on staff and ready to serve all areas of Madison county. The coaching and other services are offered at times and locations that fit within the parameters of everyone's schedule. Coaches travel throughout the county, working out of designated hubs at the AIC, the Alexandria Community Center and Hinds Career Center as well as being flexible to meet at other places as determined by the coaches and participants.
Modeled after Annie E. Casey Foundation's Centers for Working Families, THRIVE is building upon that organization’s proven success in helping families achieve long-term financial stability. The foundation’s model has been adopted at more than 100 locations throughout the U.S. in at least two dozen states.
THRIVE Network exists to offer the same proven opportunities for success to financially-struggling families throughout Madison County. As the initiative offers the promise of hope, it also issues a challenge: “Do more than survive...THRIVE!”