Institute LIFTs people out of poverty
Jessica Merdes | Thursday, February 27, 2014
Ben Reuler, executive director of LIFT-Chicago, lectured on the non-profit organization’s work helping people to escape poverty Wednesday in Geddes Hall.
Reuler, a licensed social worker, leads the Regional Advisory Board at LIFT-Chicago and directly supervises the program team as well as the development and communication team.
Yale University students Kirsten Lodal and Brian Kreiter founded LIFT in 1998. Lodal and Kreiter wanted to establish a neighborhood center where families could receive assistance from trained volunteers in their searches for jobs, housing and public benefits.
Sixteen years later, LIFT has spread across the country with 100,000 members in six major cities all with the goal of building personal, social and financial foundations that people need to get ahead.
According to LIFT’s pamphlet, “The challenge is to systematically listen to the people you serve and design solutions around what they tell you they need. At LIFT, we call this a human-centered approach to social change.”
“Every one of us experiences shaky ground moments during life,” Reuler said. “We all need the same thing: support. For many people, this support comes from LIFT.”
Reuler specifically described the struggles of Angela Allen, a former beneficiary of LIFT. Allen was experiencing a major “shaky ground moment” when she divorced, received a breast cancer diagnosis, and lost her job. Reuler said LIFT supported Allen’s medical bills, and today, she is healthy, employed and an active member in the community.
Reuler said there were three important goals to address when working to eradicate poverty today. Society needs to change the narrative of poverty in this country, disrupt the status quo and hit for singles because the home runs will come, he said.
“We all have the power to inspire change and we certainly all have the power to lift,” he said.