A few years ago, April DeVoy lost everything – her job, home, car and her freedom.
“My life was in ruins,” she told a crowd of 250 people at the Lebanon County Christian Ministries annual Benefit Dinner & Silent Auction in November.
“To top it all off, I was freshly sober and trying to prepare for the biggest moment in my life: becoming a mother.”
She knew she wanted better for herself and her family, so she set out to do just that through recovery programs, therapy and other support services.
In January 2023 her life was getting better, and she was ready to begin tackling goals.
Having enrolled in college to study psychology, she was determined to better herself, the life she shares with her fiancé Matt and daughter Marley, and to help others.
Around this time, her sister introduced her to new program at Lebanon County Christian Ministries called upLIFT.
upLIFT is a long-term, intensive program aimed at building up the wellbeing, confidence, economic strength and overall life stability of its enrolled members. upLIFT is a partner of More Than Food Consulting, which provides the framework, training, and data collection for this program and others across the country.
Together with a coach, upLIFT members create a personalized, strengths-based plan of action while also addressing the obstacles that stand in the way of a flourishing life. The goal of coaching over the course of this nine-month program is to help upLIFT members get “unstuck,” using motivational interviewing and the principles of life coaching to reduce life stressors, and build up a support team so they can move forward in areas such as employment, financial wellbeing and health.
Members can also shop for groceries privately every other week in the upLIFT pantry and have access to other qualifying LCCM services. A big part of the program is warm referrals to community partners that can help upLIFT members reach their goals and adopt a new system of habits to set them moving in a new direction.
Five people enrolled in the upLIFT program in early 2023 and results are promising: all members by the six-month mark identified as food secure, and financial wellbeing, perceived social support and self-sufficiency scores increased during this time.
In July, LCCM brought on a full-time coach, Lesvi Vazquez, who has been with LCCM for over seven years in a variety of roles. In total, nine people have enrolled so far in the program.
April set out to obtain employment in her desired field of addiction recovery as a certified recovery specialist. After 10 weeks of training, she was ready to take the exams. To alleviate any potential financial strain on their household finances, LCCM used funding from its “breaking barriers” fund to cover the cost of the exam fee.
Now a two-income household, April and Matt wanted financial education to learn more about budgeting, paying off debt, and saving for their wedding and retirement.
They began working with financial coach, Ryan Bowman of Bowman Financial Solutions, to begin tracking income and expenses, setting a budget, listing their debts in order from smallest to largest, and began paying off several of those debts. They were able to set a budget for their wedding and work it into their monthly budget. The money saved from shopping in the upLIFT pantry over 9 months provided wiggle room in their monthly budget so they could put their money toward other bills and savings.
April made significant progress in her health goals as well. “I had a hard time making appointments and hadn’t been to regular doctors or dental appointments in several years,” she said. “As a person with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), avoidance is a big part of the symptoms I struggle with.”
Her coach helped her make phone calls to set up appointments. “It may sound silly, but it was a big help to me. I’ve had several dentist appointments, doctors’ appointments, and even started working out again thanks to her support and encouragement.”
Overall, April shared that the support, encouragement and accountability her coach provided her helped keep her going when she was struggling and running into obstacles.
“Working with my (coach) improved my self-esteem, my support network, and financial security,” she said. “Life today is so much different than when I first started the upLIFT program…I am so grateful for the gifts this program has given us to better our lives that will help us to continue to succeed and improve our future.”
Lebanon County Christian Ministries