This month Bridges Out of Poverty honors the relationship between Lenoria Seals and Nancy King. Nancy and Lenoria are Allies through SJC Bridges Out of Poverty who met after they went through Getting Ahead in a just Getting by World. Nancy has been Lenoria’s mentor for over 2 years and they have become good friends.
Lenoria became involved with Bridges Out of Poverty several years ago. She started as a volunteer donating her time to Bridges, and became a Senior Corps member working at Bridges. Eventually she began attending and even helping with the Financial Management classes.
Nancy got involved with Bridges because she was the chair of Bridges’ advisory board. While in this position she made a point of trying to get to know people who were going through the Bridges programs.
When I asked them both to describe their relationship, Lenoria made it a point to say “Nancy doesn’t give me money. She’s not a bank, she is a resource”. For Lenoria, Nancy is a teacher; she teaches her to organize her life, get jobs, gain a greater financial literacy and build resources. Nancy said, “my job is not to help Lenoria but to support Lenoria”.
For Nancy, the relationship has really allowed her the opportunity to see how under-resourced individuals are treated. Nancy says she has “been able to see a side of assistance and support that really doesn’t work well” and she is “able to see what we need to do to change things”.
Their relationship is one of mutual benefit, both of them are benefiting and learning to be better versions of themselves. Nancy says, in regards to Lenoria, “I do not do stuff for her. I show her what to do… the goal is to create self-sufficiency”. In return Nancy is learning too; “I’ve learned a lot from her… I have learned from Lenoria what it is like to be without resources. She is the kindest person I know”.
When I asked what motivates each of them to continue their work together…to continue to strive for change. They had this to say: Nancy says that “[Lenoria] has come a long way” and that is what motivates her to keep up the partnership. Lenoria said “I am changing!” Through the Ally partnership that she shares with Nancy, Lenoria can see a positive and powerful change in herself and her situation.
Lenoria’s success stories are getting a job and staying employed, and now she is able to help some of her coworkers be better employees as well. Along with being employed, Lenoria was also able to get into her own home. Greatest of all though, Lenoria is alive and happy.
Several times during the interview with Lenoria and Nancy, the theme of being a family came up. Lenoria said “God blessed me and gave me a new home… God put an angel in my life”. There is a community that they are both a part of now.