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I. Purpose:

To comprehensively review the interaction between barriers to work and self-sufficiency, with a focus on the needs of the homeless.  To provide assess to occupational opportunities through advocacy, education and training, and to a wide range of resources to assist residents in the process of self-help.

II. History:

Inge Benevolent Ministries dba Muslimat Al Nisaa Shelter & Healthy Solutions Wellness Ministry, established in 1987, seeks to train and retrain shelter house residents to find a job or better job, to increase basic education, to upgrade computer skills, to increase self-confidence, and secure stable housing – all  strategies necessary to help our residents move from poverty to economic independence. Our approach to service is comprehensive.

III. Abstract:

The federal poverty guideline is the most commonly used measure of sufficiency of income for families. However, the guideline uses only the cost of food to estimate cost-of-living expenses. In an attempt to more completely describe the income that families require to take care of their basic needs, the Family Economic Self-Sufficiency Standard (FESS) was developed. It defines income on the basis of family composition, location by county, and other factors such as housing, child care, and transportation.
Muslimat Al-Nisaa’s occupational program engages in a proactive alternative to homelessness by offering enhanced case management services that provide residents with access to counseling, soft-skills training, child care, or assistance in addressing personal barriers.  Inshallah, services are customized to individuals’ experiences and circumstances. They range from helping our residents identify and participate in adult and postsecondary education and occupational skills training, to working with them to find better-paying jobs that provide pathways to promotion.

IV. Program:

Participants can access in house services and/or training near the shelter house and community, in non-threatening environments.  Many will want and need to invest in the development of their job skills so that they can command a higher wage, find better jobs, and, in turn, raise their income to a level of self-sufficiency.
What does it mean to be self-sufficient? FESS defines it as the amount of income needed for various family compositions to meet basic needs without public or private assistance. FESS takes into account housing, child care, food, transportation, health care, taxes on a net basis, and miscellaneous expenses such as shoes, paper products, nonprescription medicine, diapers, and cleaning products.
Helping our residents achieve economic stability, breaks the familial cycle of welfare dependence. Our program participants gain critical self-knowledge about their interests, values, academic performance, interpersonal skills and work related aptitudes. Assessment information empowers participants to evaluate their options and create job readiness and develop an individualized plan of training and supports needed to help them find work.  This includes basic computer instruction, help applying and interviewing for jobs, basic time and stress management, and more. Participants also have use of our in-house self-help resource room equipped with networked computers to access occupational information, online tutorials, a library and videos on interviewing and other job search strategies.

V. Summary:

For most of our residents, self-sufficiency cannot be achieved in a single step. It requires strategies that create stepping stones out of poverty—strategies that provide the assistance, guidance and time needed for a Muslim Sister to become self-sufficient.  Many of those who are immigrants, those whom are culturally and economically isolated from mainstream population, are educationally underserved, and have numerous barriers preventing them from enjoying stable employment and advancing beyond low wage jobs.

Ultimately it is through increased community connectivity that we will address our resident’s critical challenges and improve stability and self-sufficiency for our homeless Muslim women. This is possible through use of technology, expanded private and public partnerships, and most of all, connecting donor’s hearts and sense of responsibility with results that matter.  Homeless Muslim women, and Muslim women victims of domestic violence are productive, satisfied, and mentally  healthy when provided with opportunities for achievement, recognition, challenge, responsibility and learning.