The mission of Stride is to provide the pathway to self-sufficiency, and the organization has been working for more than 20 years to provide that service to those in need.
“We started because we saw a lot of community members weren’t seeing any self-sufficiency issues being covered,” Jessica Shochat, development coordinator with Stride said . “Most of our families are in Jefferson County, but we help some in Adams and Denver as well.”
Shochat said the bulk of the group’s clients are in Lakewood, Wheat Ridge and Arvada.
The criteria for receiving aid from the group is people must have dependent children living with them.
According to Shochat, Stride currently serves around 70 families, and helps with all kind of issues, from financial literacy to mental health services. The organization also has a transitional housing program, which helps families find safe housing for up to two years.
“We find out what areas our clients need help with, and then direct them to the proper community partner,” she said. “Our case managers are on hand to provide individual support for what they may need.”
Stride with groups like the Jefferson County Center for Mental Health, Action Center and mpowered in Denver to provide as much as possible to the families.
“We get referrals from a lot of sources, from homeless shelters and social services,” said Carl Hansen, one of the group’s case managers. “There is a lot of word of mouth about us, and we get many people coming in who have heard about us in that way.”
One of the people who heard about Stride from word of mouth is Karen Barker, who along with her son, works with Hansen.
“It’s been great, and I’m very lucky to have found Carl through a friend,” she said. “We were couch-hopping for a bit, but they’ve been able to help me find stable housing and a stable job.”
Hansen said that Barker is an excellent mother, who is very dedicated to her son. Through the group’s support she was able to get through school, and is working towards finishing up the program with Stride.
“We’ve had five families graduate this year, and one person opened their own business,” Hansen said. “The work we do makes a huge difference to these people who are having a hard time.”
Stride survives through donations and sponsorships, and Shochat said this is a way for the community to come together and help those in need.
“No two families are the same, and the kids are often going through a lot,” she said. “We can’t do this without help.”
For more information, visit www.stride-co.org.