The Power of Positive Connections
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The Power of Positive Connections

May 28, 2013

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Explore more successes and watch videos of those helped on the Better Directions website.

Since late 2011, NCOA has partnered with the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions to implement Better Directions, a project that pairs economic casework sites with community credit unions to help seniors access a wide range of supportive services that improve their financial security. The following is an example of one success achieved through the collaboration between Northside Community Resources in Rogers Park (NCR) and North Side Community Federal Credit Union in Chicago.

On a cold January day, Steve came into North Side Credit Union for business, and stopped at the Better Directions outreach table. Himself a senior, Steve appeared to be more concerned about getting help for his longtime friend Marv, who had struggled with addiction, unemployment, and homelessness.

As he conveniently had an appointment in Rogers Park the next day, the counselors asked that Steve stop in at the NCR office afterward.  Meanwhile, Steve took home two resource packets—one for Marv and one for himself.

Extra money for energy costs

The next day, after hearing more about Marv, the counselors subtly tried to keep the conversation focused on Steve and his own needs. They knew he could benefit from applying for a LINK card (for food assistance) and enrolling in that season’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

Steve learned that Southeast Asia Center—one of Chicago’s highest-rated LIHEAP partner agencies in terms of accuracy and client service—was located less than two blocks from his apartment. Although he had walked past the Center countless times, Steve assumed that the organization served immigrants exclusively, and had never gone through their doors.

The counselors explained the relatively simple application process to Steve, estimating the size of his LIHEAP grant at a very substantial $200!  They then called the Center, which informed us that LIHEAP applications were completed “first come, first served.” The very next morning, Steve got his documents together, visited the Center and met with Connie, who completed his application. 

One good deed brings its own rewards

It turned out that Steve had years ago helped out on a small construction project at the Center’s previous location, and that Connie was related to Steve’s sister-in-law!  Steve had such a positive experience at the Center that he decided to volunteer his carpentry skills and repair one of the Center’s outer doors free of charge. 

One good turn deserves another: Steve was later hired to help complete renovations in the Center’s senior space, a project that put an extra $150 in his pocket. 

Steve’s experience demonstrates beautifully the power of positive connections!


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