LEAVEN is celebrating its newly expanded Community Resource Center after nearly a year of construction. A ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday launched the way for LEAVEN (Limited Emergency Assistance Valley Ecumenical Network) to better provide comprehensive, integrated services and programs under one roof.
The building has now doubled in size and has space for more than 20 community partners, which allows LEAVEN to more efficiently connect people to educational opportunities, job resources, mental health counseling, financial counseling, public benefits, legal assistance, mentoring, and other services and solutions that will help them improve their lives and realize their potential.
Fifteen charitable funds within the Community Foundation awarded grants to LEAVEN’s expansion project totaling $408,608, including a $50,000 grant from the Foundation’s Bright Idea Fund. Another $218,608 of the total, to pay for the database and related staffing, came from the Basic Needs Giving Partnership, which is funded by the U.S. Venture Fund for Basic Needs from the annual U.S. Venture Open golf outing.
LEAVEN gives the nonprofit’s clients the ability to access services in one place. “LEAVEN has been referred to as the financial emergency room,” says LEAVEN Executive Director Mary Parsons. “We say we apply the Band-Aid, stop the bleeding and then connect our clients with other resources in the community.”
LEAVEN’s experience with POINT (Poverty Outcomes and Improvement Network Team) allowed Parsons and her staff to compile a compelling case for an expansion to house representatives of other agencies serving those in need. POINT uses volunteer business executives to provide intensive training for leaders of Fox Valley nonprofits. The Foundation donated staff time to get the effort started.
The organization serves about 7,000 households each year. Ninety percent of its assistance goes to housing and utilities — with the goal of stabilizing households so people can stay in their homes and not fall deeper into poverty.
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