Executive Director E-News 3-11-16 - Open Table Model

Last week I attended a meeting sponsored by the Cuyahoga County Division of Children and Family Services, The YWCA of Greater Cleveland and The Lakewood Area Collaborative. The purpose was to share information about the Open Table Model and the plan to implement Open Tables for the 120 youth aging out of the Foster Care System every year in Cuyahoga County. There are 1,500 religious congregations in Greater Cleveland and appeals will be made to these groups to form Tables but you don’t have to be part of a congregation to form a Table. The organizers are hoping that 120 Tables can be formed every year to support these 18 year olds who are supposed to be adults when foster care ends. Most of the 18 year olds I know would find it incredibly difficult to be completely on their own on their 18th birthday.

The Open Table Model is based on the idea that communities – called Tables – can transform their vocational and life experiences into tools that people impacted by poverty can use to develop and implement a plan to help move his/her life towards self-sufficiency.  The group-mentoring model is intended to
create safety and stability in the life of a person in poverty. It is not a program. The primary mode of change is through friendship, relationship, and connection.

Each Table consists of 6 – 8 people who meet for one hour, every week for one year. It is a significant commitment but the stories that I have heard about the Tables is that they are transformational for both mentors and mentees. There have been several Tables piloted in Cuyahoga County for Youth Transitioning out of Foster Care and there were positive testimonials from both mentees andmentors.

I have heard about this program before as it began 12 years ago in Arizona. I am intrigued as it aligns with our beliefs at WSCC that relationships are one of the most important components for clients to become self-sufficient. Also, our Passages program which involves volunteers mentoring a Zacchaeus family for one year is very similar to the Table concept. If you are interested in becoming a Passages mentor please contact Allison Morford at amorford@wsccenter.org . Allison will provide more information and contacts for program.

Once again the Friends of the WSCC had a wonderful event last Sunday at LaCentre. The WSCC as well as the women and children of Moriah House are blessed to have such an amazing group of women in their corner. My sincere thanks to ALL of these women.

As we did in 2015, the WSCC is a Community Partner for a film at the Cleveland International Film Festival. “God Knows Where I Am” is the story about a well-educated wife and mother and the extraordinary events that lead to her death. Although I have not seen the film, I am guessing that it could be a story similar to that of many of our clients. There will be 3 showings: Thursday, April 7th at 4:50pm, Friday, April 8th at 8:25pm and Saturday, April 9th at 1:30pm. The Festival is one of my favorite Cleveland events so please come and see the film.