As I write this reflection, I’m watching the team of incredible women that I get to spend the better part of my days with. They’re laughing, they’re happy and they’re looking forward to the future. These feelings were not always the case in 2019. This year was both incredibly rewarding and strenuous. At times it felt as though a win never came without being immediately followed by a crisis. The beauty of what we’ve created though, is that no one person is ever alone through this crazy thing called life. We’re a family, a family that bands together through the good and the bad. As a result of this powerful group of women supporting each other, we got through the dark days and came out on top! We’re genuinely looking forward to all that 2020 has in store and, for that reason, we laugh, we celebrate!
Together we accomplished some pretty awesome things in 2019. As a result of your dedication to T.E.A., we were able to significantly grow the support that we provided this year. Your contributions had a direct impact on the lives of the women we serve. Below are a few of the most notable accomplishments of T.E.A. and the strong women we serve.
- We hired our 25th woman out of shelter living!
- We transitioned our 11th woman into the traditional workforce.
- Since 2013, we issued over $23,000 in microloans with a 90% payback rate. In 2019 alone, we distributed $11,500 in microloans! This program is so impactful as it is specifically utilized to provide financial assistance to our team members in times of crisis. We’ve provided loans for car repairs, medical emergencies, housing support, school books and on and on.
- We assisted five team members in finding stable housing. In our community, finding stable (and affordable) housing continues to be the biggest barrier to success, with this year being particularly challenging. As housing prices rise and support dwindles, families are pushed into instability and economic turmoil. Each time a family is forced to move, they need to pay for moving expenses, first and last month’s rent and the security deposit. In a community where most people are barely scraping by, this process continues to push our women further and further into debt. Section 8 and the months long wait lists to get into affordable housing make this barrier even more challenging to overcome. This year, we’re thankful for the team at COTS helping to provide shelter to those in need and to the team at United Community Housing Coalition providing guidance to tenants and fighting to keep people in their homes.
- We developed relationships with three new hiring partners and embarked on our first full year of supporting women seeking refuge.
- We assisted one of our team members, a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo, in obtaining emergency room healthcare coverage. When a medical emergency immediately followed, we provided guidance in navigating the US healthcare system. We connected her with the good people at the International Institute, who then assisted her in obtaining financial resources to pay down mounting medical debt.
- We created a digital literacy program in partnership with Google and also a customer service program. We’re ready to roll out both certificate programs in January of 2020!
- We are currently working with the Challenge Detroit fellows to develop our Money Relationships program. This program will be the first time that we extend T.E.A.’s programming into the community, beyond the Creative Designers of Rebel Nell!
- We focused on career readiness; hosting advisors who assisted our team with resume writing, mock interviews and workforce development. We’re excited to announce that one of our team members is in the process of interviewing for a new job. She’s made it through four of the five steps of the interview and we couldn’t be more proud. Keep your fingers crossed for her, she finds out if she gets the job after the holidays!
- We rolled out a mentorship program with Strategic Community Partners in December. Our team members are so excited! With English being her fifth language, one of our team members is excited to perfect her English with some tutoring from her mentor.
- Another of our team members, also a refugee, is learning to drive. We frequently spend lunch breaks driving around the block to get her hours in. These quick trips around the block are always filled with laughs about the chaos of driving and trying to cross the street in Congo. This is a fun one for us!
Again, we're looking forward to 2020 and hope that you are as well! For now, we wish you nothing but love and laughter as you celebrate the end of the year with your family.
Lots of Love,
Rebel Nell COO
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