Benedictine Sisters of Erie Home Home

Everyone needs affirmation

Stephanie_Krauza,_MSW,_Program_Director

This story was prepared prior to the COVID-19 crisis.  We wish everyone well:  Stay healthy; Be gentle with yourself and others.  From our SBEC family to yours, Peace.

Everyone needs affirmation: a pat on the back, a kind word or an “attaboy/girl.” At St. Benedict Education Center, besides verbal affirmations, several levels of tangible affirmation have been established.

Stephanie Krauza, MSW, Program Director, was responsible for organizing and refining SBEC’s use of incentives to enhance their effectiveness.  She explains that offering incentives is to encourage participants to learn the skills needed to successfully interview for, obtain and maintain a job.  The value of the incentive increases as the skill developed requires a greater degree of responsibility or accountability.

The initial incentive is “Benny Bucks” (paper money) which can be spent only at St. Benedict Education Center’s Treasures & Such store.  Participants “purchase” a wide variety of purchased or donated, gently used items and a selection of personal care products.  Benny Bucks are earned by showing up on time, attending classes, being considerate of others, completing required hours, etc.  Any staff member who observes such behavior can distribute these bucks.

The next incentive adds a visit to the “Swag Stop”. At this level the items a participant can choose are fewer in number but newly purchased and higher in value.  Items such as new towel or sheet sets, diapers, small appliances (hand mixer, coffee pot, etc.) may be available.  To be eligible for this added incentive one must have reached the “pre-placement level”.  Pre-placement refers to the time when a participant moves into the Community Service phase of the program to fulfill their requirement of working 20-30 hours each week.  A variety of on-site job experiences at SBEC are available. Each person, along with the case manager, determines her/his interests for the on-site job experiences.  Each week, after fulfilling their work requirements, the participant is given the opportunity to visit the Swag Stop, with their case manager, to select one large and two small items.

The final incentive is for “job placement” participants, those who have obtained a job outside of SBEC. For working 80 hours per month a monetary amount is available to help with rent, utilities or transportation. A bill may be presented to the case manager who will pay a designated amount to the landlord or a utilities office. This incentive, provided each month, lasts for seven months, presuming the participant is fulfilling expectations of the program and the job.   A living wage in Erie County for two people in a household with two children is defined as $14.95 an hour, according to Court Gould, vice president of community impact for the Erie Community Foundation (Erie Times-News, February 27, 2020, p. A5).
Minimum wage in Pennsylvania is $7.25 an hour.  Generally, wages for the jobs procured by SBEC participants are in the area of $8.75 as a starting salary.  In addition, financial supports for child care, housing, etc. are decreased once a person has a job. This final incentive for job placement offered by St. Benedict Education Center attempts to provide some assistance during this transition period.  It also offers the opportunity for participants to experience some satisfaction in having a debt paid because of their work.

For those who are developing goals, discovering their way, and seeking to find and maintain a job, these incentives give the individual a hand up and not a hand out.  Don’t we all need some type of relevant affirmation?
 

Shopping in Treasures & Such
Shopping in Treasures & Such
Spending some earned Benny Bucks
Spending some earned Benny Bucks
The SWAG STOP
The SWAG STOP
Some items in the SWAG STOP
Some items in the SWAG STOP
Helping with a utility bill
Helping with a utility bill
Perhaps we can help with a National Fuel bill
Perhaps we can help with a National Fuel bill