By Karen LaFrazia, Executive Director of St. Francis House
“Before doing the Moving Ahead Program I thought I was damaged goods with no self-worth and no belief in a life without drugs. I never thought I could hold a position for more than a few weeks, with my addiction destroying any and all dreams of living clean. Life is so much better today for me because of the Moving Ahead Program.” –Sheila, Graduate of Class 126
At the Massachusetts State House Advocacy Breakfast yesterday, with the support of Chairman Aaron Michlewitz, St. Francis House highlighted the success of the Sullivan Family Moving Ahead Program (MAP). Each year MAP prepares hundreds of men and women to join the workforce and lead productive lives.
Every day of the year, St. Francis House is open, welcoming all who come to our front door each morning seeking ways to start rebuilding their lives. Last month alone we served 1,862 unique individuals, and although we are located in Boston, people come from all over the state seeking our help.
Beyond the basics of warm meals, showers and changes of clothing, we have 56 units of permanent supported housing, and MAP provides vocational rehabilitation for 200 students each year.
Last year marked the twentieth anniversary of our Sullivan Family MAP, founded in 1995, which has an alumni network of over 1,500 graduates. More than a job-skills training program, MAP proves that men and women can overcome long histories of homelessness and incarceration, struggles with mental health issues, and addiction to rediscover their true talents and abilities, successfully obtaining employment and leading fulfilling lives.
To best understand our impact, it is important to recognize that our students have, on average,experienced homelessness four times before joining the program. This past year, 54% of our enrolled students graduated! But even more impressive is that 91% of those graduates were sober and employed the day they graduated, with an average hourly wage of $11.48.
These are some of the most resilient men and women in our community, whose stories highlight the power of believing in others. The power of the St. Francis House community is our collective belief in people, and the belief that people can change and rebuild their lives. Our Moving Ahead Program helps students seize these opportunities to move ahead in a meaningful way in their own lives.