This essential and effective program, which has been blessed to receive life-giving funds from the Miles C. Hauter Foundation, lies at the heart of our organization. Each time someone walks through our doors for any type of assistance, whether the “door” they enter is through one of our programs, or just for a loaf of bread, they have the opportunity to sit down for an initial assessment with an A.C.E.S. Coach.
Weekly, during our A.C.E.S. meeting, we can “circle around” their Intake assessments with our entire small, but mighty, team of Executive Leadership and A.C.E.S. Coaches to assess the needs of that individual and/or family so that we can provide any/all of our resources as needed, giving them a greater opportunity to rise above their circumstances. One A.C.E.S. Coach will be the dedicated long-term Coach partnering with the individual/or family as we create an Achievement Plan for them that becomes their map to navigate beyond the obstacles in their lives. This plan will utilize internal referrals to our Income Support Coaches, our Education and Employment Coaches and our Finance Coaches!
And what we can’t provide, then our community partners work together with us to provide resources. And the BEST PART, is that the person or family in need is involved in this process of finding their way to a life of hope, self-reliance and dignity!
Our Community Support and Feeding Program plays a vital role in assisting individuals by providing Income Support assistance with basic human needs, hygiene products, provide rental and utility assistance, food and clothing assistance, and well-baby needs for new and expectant mothers.
FRIDAY NIGHT TAKE-OUT (FNTO): This weekly feeding program has provided over 105,945 meals to hungry men, women and children since January 1, 2015! This aggressive Friday Night Take-Out program provides the Friday evening ready-made meal as a take-out, as well a box with enough groceries to supply all of the 6 other meals of the weekend. We also give them an opportunity to have an assessment by one of our A.C.E.S. Coaches and therefore access to any of our wrap-around services. The afternoon provides a “resource fair” environment which offers a variety of community resources. These can change weekly, if needed, and give access to healthcare, legal assistance, nutritional education and cooking tips, or resources that are indicated through surveys of those attending our FNTO.
Our partnership with South Side Mission in Peoria utilizes their cooking school which contributes towards the ready-made meals for our Friday Night Take-Out each week.
SENIORS CLUBS: Another element of this program are our two weekly Seniors Gatherings on Thursday and Friday hosting Latino and English-speaking seniors from 65 to 100! Weekly, we pick up the seniors from all around Peoria and bring them here for volunteer opportunities, a meal, music and a rousing Bingo game. We return them home with canned goods and a promise to pick them up next week. Occasionally their meeting includes an outing or a special luncheon invitation to another agency. We have geriatric exercise equipment for each of our seniors’ groups to attend senior fitness classes in our gymnasium!
RAPID REHOUSING: This is one of the few government grants we are accepting, and these funds allow us to help homeless families and individuals become housed. We work closely with our community shelter partners, where we receive referrals from families who are prepared to take the step into managing their own household. Peoria Friendship House guides them through that process, provides a vetted list of Landlords who are good to work with renters in need, dedicate funds for an appropriate number of months’ rent and provide coaching to these families through our A.C.E.S. program to insure greater opportunity for success.
CLOTHING OUTREACH: For generations, the families in this neighborhood have been able to find clothing through the donations received at Peoria Friendship House. Previously, clothing was laid out in piles on tables in the gymnasium so that people could rummage through them and find something. We have begun the process of COMPLETELY CHANGING that model by presenting it as a dignified shopping approach that will provide budget training, employment training, community partnerships and be an exclusive service to only those in the greatest need.
We are dedicating 816 NE Madison as a neighborhood clothing store, “The CLOSET on Madison Avenue.” Learn more here.
Other Agency Referrals/ Partnerships
• Maka Maka Race
• Good Hair Day Cut-a-thon
• Community Unity Day & Health Fair
This program encompasses children’s educational support which is greatly needed within this neighborhood to promote a love for learning, an increase in high school graduates and reduce the likelihood of truancy.
Friendship House Academy (FHA) Friendship House provides a nine month Friendship House Academy after school for Kindergarten through 8th grade students that focuses on increasing a child’s learning potential with a concentration on one-on-one tutoring, enrichment activities and service learning opportunities. This year, we have introduced STEM curriculum, which includes FIRST® LEGO® League, allowing the children to research, design, and build a LEGO® robot that they will use to compete against other children at District, State or National levels. Our goal is that the children would grow to love learning and not just pass their school courses, but learn to excel.
Summer Camp (SC) When school is out for the summer, we provide an eight week Summer Camp program focusing on leadership development that provides four consecutive 2-week camp themes with an enriching diverse program in a fun and safe environment for each child to learn about better health issues, giving back to one’s community through service learning, and social and emotional well-being. The overall Summer Camp theme is divided into two age groups, K-3rd are Rising Stars, and 4-8th are Leaders in Training, therefore continuously instilling in these children the capacity to be achievers.
These courses address the needs of both men and women, and involve the resources of community partnerships, a limitless opportunity for Adult Educational workshops exists through referrals or onsite educational seminars or classes
General Education Development (GED). Peoria Friendship House has collected data that indicates that over 45% of every man and woman who come for services here do not have a High School Diploma or GED. We have begun our own GED class to this neighborhood, so that obstacles such as transportation, hesitation in signing up through a community college system or lack of confidence, are lessened and these adults are more likely to enroll in a neighborhood center that they trust. We also provide a Spanish-speaking GED class.
English as a Second Language (ESL): Twice a week Peoria Friendship House provides a largely attended ESL class for our significant Latino population in this area. This class is instrumental in helping Spanish-speaking adults become more integrated into the English speaking community.
US Citizenship Classes: Each semester we hold a class for men and women who do not have their citizenship which prepares them with the knowledge they need to learn about the United States and what it means to be a Citizen. At the end of that semester, they will connect with the Immigration Council who prepare them legally for the Citizenship test. We see several from this class take their oath of citizenship each year.
Service Work Hours Program (SWHP): This is our exciting new initiative that utilizes volunteers from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), DHS, Peoria Housing Authority or court-appointed community service who have to perform community service hours to meet obligations for benefits or for court-assigned hours. The purpose of this program is to provide real On-the-Job Training with real workplace expectations and supervision, so that the time they spend volunteering will be used to improve their ability to serve as a successful employee. Included in the SWHP is an 18-week course that provides a broad spectrum of employment skills necessary to succeed in a job. We bring in employers from outside businesses to speak to the SWHP volunteers about what it means to work for their business. We also give them pre-and post-tests measuring their knowledge on essential skills for success. These volunteers have the opportunity to develop resumes, practice interviewing and sit-down for real life interviews. The goal of this program is to allow men and women who have very raw employment skills to experience growth through levels of training in an “on-the-job” experience and hopefully become employed. OUR NEW CLOTHING OUTREACH INITIATIVE IS RELATIVE TO THIS SERVICE.
The Latino population is one of the fastest growing ethnic groups in the Peoria area. PFH has offered a comprehensive set of services (translations, interpretation, education, community presentations) designed to help Latinos become productive, tax-paying, self-reliant members of American society.
In partnership with Children’s Home, the Latino Outreach hosts educational seminars to the Latino parents in the community educating them on various social issues impacting their children.
We are integrating many of our services for both English speaking and Spanish speaking individuals, but also recognize the very real need for cultural diversity.
One of the great assets of PFH is a large gymnasium. The history of PFH includes a strong outreach to the community providing basketball leagues, tennis lessons, roller skating, and general sports activities for the children. In recent years, the gymnasium had been redesigned with lean-to sheds and became more of a combination warehouse and meeting place.
With the restructure of services and staff, and the very critical need for sports outlets for the children and adults in this neighborhood, PFH believes strongly that this gymnasium is an asset provided from God to meet those needs. We removed our primary storage sheds which were built-in around the perimeter of the gym and are restoring the gymnasium to be a place for churches to join us in an inter-church/neighborhood sports ministry for the purpose of encouraging fellowship, good old-fashioned healthy competition and exercise, and the opportunity for mentorship for the children and parents of this community.
We currently use the gym for our Youth Education’s recreation and CATCH (Coordinated Approach to Child Health) Curriculum and activities, exercise for our Seniors, community health fairs, events and meetings, and to facilitate our Friday Night Take-Out.
It is our vision to have this gymnasium filled with neighborhood sports activities for men, women and children all week long.