The dictionary defines self-sufficiency as the ability to supply one's own needs without external assistance. It goes with words like independent, competent, efficient, solid.
It means doing what it takes to support yourself fully.
Self-sufficiency can mean sacrifice or hard work. It can mean taking responsibility for your own happiness, instead of leaving it up to others. It can mean tears and pain and sleepless nights. But eventually, if you keep at it, it can mean victory. It can mean satisfaction in knowing you are enough and confidence in your future. It can mean the difference between living and flourishing.
In most cases, when someone comes to us, it's because they have run out of options. It's a "rock bottom" kind of situation, and there can be overwhelming feelings of fear, defeat, and failure. We don't ever want someone to leave our program still feeling this way. That's why we first provide for the basic needs of food, shelter, and clothing; then they are free to focus on becoming self-sufficient with thorough case management.
The first step is to find sustainable income--this is not just a job, but a job that can support all financial needs after leaving our program. We carefully calculate what income is sustainable for each individual or family and give them a budget to go by when seeking employment. Once a resident has found a job, they are expected to save 80% of each paycheck so they are able to leave with enough money to obtain their own housing and keep it long term. They also leave with an actual budget for their current income and expenses at the time of exiting the program.
Residents at MATS do not only learn financial self-sufficiency. During their stay, they learn how to cook for themselves, keep up with laundry and hygiene, be consistent with daily chores, and be responsible for their own time and actions. If medication or therapy are needed, they go get it. If AA, NA, or other group support is needed, they do that.
If a resident takes this program seriously and is ready to see a real change in their life, they will leave knowing what it takes to be self-sufficient. Someone who knows they are able to support themselves on their own has feelings of peace, victory, and confidence. It's a complete turnaround from where they started. And someone who truly puts in the work and makes a change--they won't have to come back.
We are firm believers in the power of self-sufficiency because we know it is a long-term solution to homelessness and poverty. There is nothing better than seeing someone who came in defeated, leave feeling successful! That is why our goal is self-sufficiency.