Friday Success Story: Edna Martin Christian Center

Samantha was at a very low point in her life and felt her situation was hopeless. She had just lost her Section 8 tenant certification due to a noncompliance issue, her utilities had been disconnected for nearly four months and she was unemployed. She and the father of her children had recently separated leaving her with very limited resources. When personnel at IPS #51 where her four children attend realized the family was in crisis and facing imminent homelessness, they referred Samantha to nearby Edna Martin Christian Center (EMCC) for help.

EMCC staff enrolled Samantha in STEPS (Strategies to Empower and Promote Success), a feeder program to their Center for Working Families. STEPS includes intensive case management, workshops and group activities designed to help members gain basic skills they need to achieve stability in the areas of employment, education, health and safety, income management and housing. Incorporated in STEPS is the Martindale-Brightwood Family Stability Project, the target of a multi-year United Way Ready to Learn/Ready to Earn grant.

Using funds donated by the Siemer Institute for Family Stability, the project’s goal is to promote housing and school stability for vulnerable families with children enrolled at IPS #48, #51, #56 or #69.

After enrolling in STEPS, Samantha made significant progress. Her Section 8 housing subsidy was restored after she won her appeal of the certification ruling. She participated in and complied with requirements of IMPACT (Indiana Manpower and Comprehensive Training, part of the state’s Welfare to Work program) in order to get her TANF and SNAP (food stamps) benefits restored. She took steps to begin paying her bills on time and actively participated in all aspects of the STEPS program.

Samantha’s journey to stability wasn’t without setbacks. When the home she was renting failed a Section 8 inspection the landlord refused to make the required repairs, instead giving them a 30-day notice to vacate. Edna Martin placed the family in temporary shelter, provided help with the move as well as a storage facility for their belongings.

Samantha didn’t give up and continued to press forward. Her determination and perseverance paid off – she is now employed and living with her children in a nice apartment that is a far cry from where they used to live.

Note: United Way of Central Indiana (UWCI) helps people learn more, earn more and lead safe and healthy lives. This mission includes support of 92 human service agencies whose programs contribute to one or more of UWCI’s four priorities of Education, Income, Health and Basic Needs. Edna Martin Christian Center, Inc. is a United Way funded multi-service community center serving the Martindale-Brightwood neighborhood of Indianapolis. The agency’s services align with all four UWCI priorities.

Since 2004, UWCI has invested over $1.7 million in support of EMCC’s mission to provide holistic programs that empower, encourage and engender hope for neighborhood residents. This funding includes over $980,000 for capital projects, facility maintenance, technology needs and other targeted grants from funds contributed specifically for those purposes. The agency’s current Community Fund allocation is $125,754.