Grant Helps Group Keep Families out of Peril

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Rapid City Journal (January 24, 2016): A local volunteer program that helps mothers and families become self-sustaining will continue this year thanks to a generous donation from a Black Hills private foundation. The John T. Vucurevich Foundation awarded $40,000 to Volunteers of America’s Mommy’s Closet program this year. The foundation has been donating between $30,000 and $50,000 each year for the past five years for the case management services at Mommy’s Closet. Case management services help families find ways to seek self-sufficiency. They then work to meet those goals together, Rosdahl said. For example, she might help a family by contacting a resource program in the area while that family member meets their goal of applying for a certain number of jobs. The program connects people to community resources, said Kelly Folsom, program director for Volunteers of America of Rapid City. She said they help break down poverty barriers by assisting people with paperwork and giving them step-by-step plans to help them do whatever they need to do. They help people go to school, find a job or find permanent housing. “So we try to find their motivations and find out how likely they are to make those changes,” Folsom said. The program works with the families for about three months. Mommy’s Closet wouldn’t be able to provide case management services without the Vucurevich award, Folsom said. Everything Mommy’s Closet gets in is community driven, from clothes and diaper donations to case management services. “Every donation that comes in goes right back out (to the community) free of charge,” she said. The Vucurevich Foundation is the program’s biggest donor. It also offers a lot of collaborative insight to the organization. “They have been instrumental in creating a community within our community of service organizations,” Folsom said. The other three programs within Rapid City’s branch of Volunteers of America are self-sustaining, Folsom said. But Rosdahl said they typically don’t have a problem finding donors or volunteers. “Almost every day we have a member of the community that is donating gently used clothing or toys, we get a lot of donations of diapers, wipes and formula,” Rosdahl said. “(We) couldn’t sustain Mommy’s Closet without that.” A handful of volunteers are dedicated to helping Mommy’s Closet, from volunteering with sorting items to working at the donation desk every week. Rosdahl said seeing people come in with donations of diapers, formula and gently used clothes is exciting. “We just know that there are parents out there who have nowhere else to turn,” Rosdahl said, “and so when they come here, and we can provide for them, that’s just the only thing that matters.”

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