Point of View

Changing misperceptions about those in Raleigh who are in need

June 12, 2014 

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    Get information about the Misperception Project at passagehome.org/themisperceptionproject/

In the past few months, Raleigh has been ranked by national publications as the country’s best place to raise a family and best city to start a career. This is not a reality for all residents, however, and Passage Home is working to change the future for those struggling with poverty and homelessness.

We are doing this through “ The Misperception Project,” a campaign created to change the public’s attitude toward stereotyped citizens facing daunting economic situations. Many of Passage Home’s impoverished clients are unfairly mislabeled and judged for their struggles. Some people believe that those who are homeless or in poverty have gotten themselves there due to bad choices, laziness or addiction. In reality, many of our clients are like most of middle class America – one life-altering change away from poverty.

This campaign is giving the families we serve a voice to reveal how misleading stereotypes can be. Through this project, Passage Home needs to raise $200,000 in unrestricted funds by June 30 in order to set 90 families on their path to self-sufficiency.

Nonprofits, like people, can be hurt by misperceptions. Some believe that nonprofits with strong grant backing, like Passage Home, are adequately funded, but these funds are often restricted to specific services and limit our ability to help when pressing needs arise. We need to raise unrestricted dollars to continue to serve the Wake County community.

The generosity of local residents is evident in what we have been able to achieve since opening our doors in 1991. So far this year, Passage Home has placed 150 people in affordable housing, provided mentoring and tutoring to nearly 90 youth through our Raleigh Community and Safety Club, provided fresh produce through a Kidz Zone garden sponsored by Bayer CropScience in the Branch St. neighborhood and served more than 10,000 nutritious meals through the Safety Club’s community kitchen.

A few years ago, a woman came to live in one of our affordable housing units in North Raleigh with her daughter. Because she was able to obtain this housing, she could better care for her child and take college classes. She came into our office recently and said she had graduated with a degree in paralegal studies and would begin a new job with a local law firm the next week. She credited Passage Home for helping her to become financially stable and achieve the success that would create a sustainable future for her and her daughter.

This story, fortunately, is not unique for the people we serve. Passage Home program participants are provided the resources and tools to become homeowners who are successful teachers, bank employees, government employees and more. With community support, we can continue to be a leader in developing the Raleigh area as a better place to live and work for all.

Take time today to think about the stereotypes someone you love has endured. Then challenge yourself to view the people we serve in a new light. Join the Misperception Project to help us change minds and empower lives.

Jeanne Tedrow is the co-founder and CEO of Passage Home, which connects families and resources to set people on the path to economic stability.

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