The relationship between Trident United Way's (TUW) Shakelia LeBlanc, coordinator of the Berkeley County Prosperity Center, and her clients always begins with a conversation. Most individuals who walk through the center's doors are initially looking for help with a basic need like food or clothing. Oftentimes, a combination of circumstances present numerous challenges and make it difficult for them to succeed.
While working with other area nonprofits at the center to address immediate needs first, LeBlanc also engages in a broader conversation to help clients envision a path to a more stable future.
"Once you start a conversation, people will begin to share more details about what's going on in their lives," she said. "It's not usually a one-time fix. People often need to come back and we'll continue to help them along their journey until they get to where they can be stable."
James has seen firsthand how establishing a long-term plan can set a person up for success. After losing his job and having his car repossessed, James felt he had hit rock bottom. Encouraged by a former colleague, he visited the Prosperity Center where LeBlanc and other center collaborators were able to assist with basic needs by finding temporary housing, prescription aid and car assistance. LeBlanc also helped James create a resume and apply for jobs.
"I was going to give up," James remembers. "The Prosperity Center gave me hope; they gave me encouragement and they strengthened my faith. I have ambition and I want to get things done because people took the time to help me."
Thanks to the collaboration of Trident United Way and other Prosperity Center partners, James has moved from survival mode into self-sufficiency with a full-time position and permanent housing. James continues to visit the Prosperity Center on a regular basis to serve as a source of encouragement and guidance for others who are beginning their journey there.
James is one of 2,683 people who visited one of the two centers in Berkeley and Dorchester counties in FY 2015-2016.