When you visit the United Way of the Mid-South’s website for its Driving the Dream ‘Out of Poverty’ program you find the following description of what Driving the Dream is: “Driving The Dream (DTD) envisions a Mid‐South in which all people have equitable access to resources and supports needed to achieve their hopes and dreams by fostering a community where the people we serve are hopeful, resilient, and self‐sufficient.
DTD is leading a movement, and Meritan recently became one of four Hubs in the Mid-South area to help drive the dream of community. A community where a system uncomplicates itself in order to help people fulfill their dreams of having the lives they want or envision.
Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting one of our Meritan Driving the Dream participants and she was excited to let me tell her story of how she came to Meritan and what her hopes and dreams are as a result of this new initiative.
First, I don’t want to call this a program. Driving the Dream to us here at Meritan is a new way to do business and to do the business of human service well. This new way is about wrapping services around people from one point of entry in order to help them navigate through systems based upon what is important and a priority for them.
Meet Angela Soto. Angela was referred to Meritan through the United Way. Angela has two children and currently resides in a shelter. She had recently relocated to Memphis from Chicago for her relationship and when that didn’t work out she found herself homeless with her children.
Enter Rhavan Mitchell, Meritan DTD Care Coordinator. Rhavan is one of a kind. A connector, mentor, and navigator for those whom she serves. As Angela told me, she was simply grateful for Rhavan, “it was like I was following the breadcrumbs to her.” How powerful is that!
As Angela explained to me, with two children who required childcare she had a number of urgent priority needs. Those included childcare, housing, and a job. Here was her dilemma: You can’t get housing without a job and you can’t get a job without childcare and you need a job that is flexible enough to understand your childcare needs and allow you to work when your kids are in childcare but off if one is sick. Whew! Not many of us are faced with those complications!
What to do? Rhavan completed the intake and all the necessary assessments on Angela and found out that not only is she bright but she’s an entrepreneur as well. Back in Chicago, Angela owned her own business. This girl can bake up a cake, cookies or cupcakes and has the most incredible creative spirit that allows her to design your goodies based on your inspiration (see a few of her recent creations). But in order for Angela to even begin to get back to business ownership, she had to start again. Rhavan then met with Meritan’s Program Director for HCBS In-Home Services and arranged an interview. Needless to say, Angela aced that interview and will be starting soon as a Meritan Homecare Specialist, a job that gives her the flexibility she needs and a way to establish new connections to rebuild her business right here in Memphis.
Angela is currently on the list for housing and will be able to give her children a home and stability, has childcare, and is slated to start orientation for her new job soon. So you see, the Dream can be Driven forward when we navigate systems, connect people and mentor and encourage them to keep dreaming.
As for Angela, the Driving the Dream team wish her nothing but the best as we know that her future dream is right in front of her.