NEW BEDFORD — Milagros Sanchez moved herself and her twin daughters to Bay Village Housing Development in 2013 from New York to escape a domestic abuse situation.
At Bay Village, she heard about the Housing Authority’s ROSS Program, (Resident Opportunities and Self-Sufficiency program), which provides residents resources to become self-sufficient.
Working with ROSS Coordinator Esperanza Alejandro-Berube, Sanchez became an advocate for her daughters’ education. Her 9-year-old daughters have speech and language impairments and required IEPs (individualized education programs) at Gomes School.
“Esperanza made sure my kids got evaluated every six months and provided me with the information I needed,” Sanchez said. “Some people don’t have support from anyone.”
Sanchez recently completed the Clemente Course, a program that provides college-level humanities classes to low-income adults, for up to 6 credits from UMass Dartmouth. She will transfer her credits to Bridgewater State University to study human service. She also works as a policy advocate for the Women’s Fund of Southeastern MA.
“If it wasn’t for the (ROSS) program, I’d be lost right now,” Sanchez said.
While the ROSS Program is only offered at Presidential Heights and Bay Village Housing Developments through a federal Housing and Urban Development grant, the Housing Authority is looking to create a similar model for the Ben Rose Gardens Housing Development through a partnership with the United Way of Greater New Bedford.
United Way agreed to fund a family resource coordinator at Ben Rose Gardens Housing Development to provide services to residents similar to those offered through the ROSS Program, according to Sherrie Nobre, the ROSS program director at the Housing Authority.
Nobre said the details are still being worked out.
“This program provides a stable foundation for assisting residents in the attainment of skills and supports needed in order to meet their employment and educational goals,” said Housing Authority Executive Director Steven Beauregard.
“My wish is to someday secure funding to assign a ROSS Coordinator to each of our family developments. This will allow the Housing Authority to provide a level playing field for all of our residents in accomplishing their educational and employment goals,” Beauregard said.
The coordinator will likely be in place by September, Nobre said.
Services would include financial literacy and employment training.
“When we look at our families, we take a holistic approach,” said Alejandro-Berube. “We look at who they are, where they are and what are their goals and dreams. It’s about developing that road map.”
This article HERE first appeared in the New Bedford Times on July 23rd, 2015 – by Kathleen McKiernan, firstname.lastname@example.org