WellSpring: Pathways to Prosperity Bridging the Educational Gap for Homeless Youths
Written By: Robin Reid, Storyteller
If you were like many people who grew up in Morgan County, you lived in a two-parent household where food was on the table at least three times a day, you went to school, there was reliable transportation, and every night you had a bed to sleep in.
Currently, there are 30-45 homeless families in our community who are on a waiting list for WellSpring in Martinsville, because the shelter is already full.
Homelessness and poverty are real problems requiring real solutions. WellSpring’s Executive Director Bob Goodrum believes one of the answers is prevention and it starts by helping children perform well in school.
The Community Foundation of Morgan County (CFMC) is proud to support and partner with WellSpring by providing Impact Grants to fund prevention initiatives such as Pathways to Prosperity. CFMC recognizes poverty and homelessness are generational problems requiring sustainable solutions.
“We look at the ‘two-generational’ approach of let’s provide for the needs of the families as they are today, but let’s really look at investing a lot in the young people so they don’t make some of these choices that mom and dad have made,” said Goodrum.
In its second year, Pathways to Prosperity gives homeless youths the opportunities to improve their school performance whether it’s through the Homework Club at the shelter, tutoring assistance at Martinsville High School (MHS) or at one of Martinsville’s youth centers for fifth through eighth-grade students.
“One hundred percent of our first through fourth-grade students attended Homework Club four days a week. All of our students were promoted to the next grade level this year. We had one high school senior who graduated in four years and a second one who graduated early,” Goodrum added.
This is a huge success for families at WellSpring. When homeless families are not living in a shelter, getting their children to school can be a problem. If a child at WellSpring needs a way to school, the United States McKinney-Vento Act mandates all school districts to provide transportation to students residing in homeless shelters. The Metropolitan School District of Martinsville (MSD) has a McKinney-Vento representative who coordinates this service.
“We have seen an increase in school attendance and improved grades among our children. We copy their report cards for our files and are encouraged by their progress,” said Goodrum.
Not only do students have transportation, but they also have the necessary school supplies like notebooks, pencils, folders, and more. Thanks to MHS students and faculty, all school-aged children at WellSpring received these items from the Wyatt Saylor Backpack Buddy Drive. The school district plans to continue these backpack drives so supplies are continually furnished at the shelter.
Goodrum visits classes at John R. Wooden Middle School to educate children about homelessness and offer resources should any student believe they’re at risk of becoming homeless.
For students at WellSpring who are old enough to understand homelessness, Goodrum and his WellSpring team teach them the importance of building healthy, positive relationships, having a strong work ethic, setting and achieving goals, making wise decisions, and more. These behaviors and skills are the foundational blocks for preventing poverty and homelessness.
Throughout the year, older students can participate in the “7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens” class to learn about self-confidence, solving problems, positive thinking, and more. In addition, WellSpring is partnering with the Morgan County Substance Abuse Council (MCSAC) to teach life skills to middle school students at the shelter. This training will help them learn how to stay away from substance abuse and avoid making other poor choices.
Goodrum and his team are committed to providing encouragement, education, services, and other resources that empower individuals and families to break the cycle of poverty and homelessness.
You can be a problem solver like Bob Goodrum and help more youth find their way out of poverty and homelessness in Morgan County. Donate to CFMC’s Impact Grants at www.cfmconline.org or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CFMC’s mission is to connect donors and their charitable giving with our evolving community needs in order to enhance the quality of life for current and future generations through impact grantmaking. The vision of CFMC is to be the philanthropic leader and a catalyst in order to maximize available resources in our community.