Sunday Friends: Helping families break out of poverty

Courtesy of Sunday Friends
Sunday Friends empowers families to break the generational cycle of poverty.

• Mission: Sunday Friends empowers families to break the generational cycle of poverty by fostering positive development in children while educating and guiding parents to support their children’s life success.

• 2019 update: Sunday Friends moved its office and Treasure Chest store to a new location – the Franklin-McKinley School District Service Center in San Jose.

“This has been an exciting move, placing our office directly in our service area and bolstering our partnership with the school district,” said Executive Director James McCaskill.

In 2020, Sunday Friends plans to roll out its Pathways to Opportunity strategy, focusing on seven key areas that empower low-income families to graduate out of poverty into opportunity: digital fluency, English fluency, financial literacy, parenting, leadership, household stability and supportive community.

Sunday Friends’ motto is that it’s “the working alternative to charity,” with participants of all ages earning what they receive through a unique ticket-based learning economy. Children and adults earn tickets at every program activity, save those tickets in interest-bearing Sunday Bank accounts and then redeem the tickets at the Treasure Chest store for much-needed items such as school supplies, diapers, personal hygiene items and household goods. Twice a year, families can use their tickets to apply for a rent-relief program wherein Sunday Friends writes checks directly to landlords.

McCaskill said three words describe the Sunday Friends program: “learning,” “earning” and “serving.”

“We believe that no matter your station in life, you can help others and give back,” he said.

Children and their parents will work together to create craft items like placemats for Meals on Wheels or holiday decorations for a local hospice as a way of serving the greater community.

• Why the Holiday Fund is needed: Sunday Friends serves up to 900 very-low-income individuals annually – half of them children. More than ever, as economic conditions in the region become more challenging, programs like Sunday Friends are needed.

“Our families are very motivated to work toward a better future,” McCaskill said.

Sunday Friends

Location: 645 Wool Creek Drive, Suite A, San Jose

Founded: 1997

Annual budget: $1.4 million

Staff: 3 full-time, 13 part-time employees; 2,300 volunteers


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