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A Guest Blog Presented by Saranam
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico's Healthy Kids, Healthy Families® initiative awarded a grant to Saranam, an Albuquerque nonprofit organization providing a comprehensive range of services to assist families in transitioning beyond homelessness.
Families receive a range of integrated services that help them succeed individually and grow together.
Every parent wants to leave a legacy for their child; to create a better world for them than they had. Never is this goal more pronounced than it is for families who have experienced homelessness.
For the last 16 years Saranam has been helping families do just that.
Families are the unexpected, and too often unseen, face of homelessness in New Mexico. It can be the single mom working three jobs to keep her family in a hotel or the family of five couch surfing that are living in the margins, unseen and alone.
"I didn't even feel like a person before Saranam. I felt like my daughter and I were just little leaves, floating along and trying to get by." Saranam alumni
Children are provided with extended learning opportunities to enhance their education.
The effect of homelessness on families is complex. Beyond the immediate health risks, the trauma of insecurity, fear and abuse can have lasting effects on physical and mental health. Children who have experienced homelessness are especially at risk, facing three times the rate of emotional and behavioral problems compared to other children; and they are four times more likely to show delayed development. To bring them healing and hope, Saranam makes success a family affair.
Families spend two years securely housed and immersed in a supportive community while they expand their education. When families leave Saranam — and 77 percent of them exit successfully — they do so securely and self-sufficiently.
But the story doesn't end at Saranam's door. Ending homelessness is just their first step. What they want next is to start a legacy of economic security to pass onto future generations.
But how do they do that? Legacies take time to create, and like all of us have experienced, there are more pressures on time than there are relief valves.
With support from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico, we can help families reach their highest goals in Saranam’s After Exit program.
Families increase their education at Saranam, enabling them to earn, and save, more for their future.
In After Exit, alumni families have the opportunity to build the bridge from homelessness to homeowner by taking classes in home buying, participating in credit recovery, and building assets through matched savings programs. And families who experience setbacks, like the pendulum of the economy during the COVID-19 crisis, can receive personal attention before they lose everything again.
Importantly, the program is also a space to maintain a support network with the Saranam community.
"Our connection is a type of bond — you have a shared experience. Our family really appreciates how people have always been there for us, and we like to be mentors and give back," says one of our younger alumni. She was a child when her family went through Saranam’s program, and she is now participating in savings classes to support herself through college.
Now two-generational stories like this can be used to help even more people. In-depth research into family’s lives five or even ten years after homelessness is sparse, but programs like After Exit will help to illuminate what families need to create the legacy they crave.
We can do it together. In just the first year of the program Saranam has more than doubled the number of families we’re in touch with to 75%!
Our virtual halls are brimming with laughter from families who have gone on to become nurses, teachers, advocates, and leaders. Thank you to Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico for investing in the long-term success of families and in the generational legacy they will leave in our community.
You are a true hero. Thank you for being such an inspiration. I hope this advocacy of yours will become more successful.
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