Project Independence at CCS Making Milestone Moments Possible

When Elizabeth joined Project Independence at Combined Community Services (CCS), she was skeptical that the program could help her. After all, there were others who needed it more than she and her daughter did – or so she thought at the time.

Seven years later, Elizabeth tells a different story. “Probably my biggest personal milestone was letting go of my pride and asking for assistance,” Elizabeth said. “That was very hard, but it changed my life. My daughter and I were alone,” Elizabeth continued. “Now, not only are we stable economically, we have a strong community around us.”

Combined Community Services offers two self-sufficiency programs: Hand-Up and Project Independence. Hand-Up extends short-term guidance while Project Independence is a mentorship
program that can last several years. It enables participants like Elizabeth to eliminate all need for financial assistance from government or philanthropic resources.

Both self-sufficiency programs offer resources and incentives to participants, including educational workshops and gas vouchers. A Community Fund grant from the Community Foundation helped fund these resources during 2023, allowing CCS to support over 40 individuals on their journeys out of poverty. Thousands more were impacted by CCS’s events, food pantry, and emergency assistance programs.

Elizabeth graduated from Project Independence in May, 2023, after seven years of hard but rewarding work. She started her journey in The Beaman Home, unemployed and struggling to meet daily needs for herself and her daughter. Now, Elizabeth is armed with a Bachelor’s of Science degree with a major in human services from Grace College (the first in her family to earn a degree) and stepping into a full-time position as an Accounts Manager at Wetzel Insurance Agency. She no longer needs any financial assistance and has big dreams for her future, including earning a
master’s degree.

Elizabeth joyfully supports women experiencing what she lived through, pointing them toward resources like CCS, the local chapter of Altrusa, The River ministry at Warsaw Community Church, and scholarship opportunities at the Community Foundation. “I see a confidence and security in Elizabeth that wasn’t there before,” said Sabrina Phillips, director of self-sufficiency at CCS. “She’s turning around and helping those coming behind her.”

“When I wasn’t receptive to people helping me, God sent the right people anyway,” Elizabeth said. “The timing was perfect. I truly believe that all the future generations of my family are
changed for the better.”