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Hodge Family Success Story

The Hodge Family

When Tracey Hodge applied to participate in Thriving Connections of the South Central Community Action Program in 2008, she hoped to become more independent.

"It sounded like a new idea, a more proactive idea," Hodge recalled. "It sounded empowering and the opposite of the programs that make you jump through hoops."

Hodge became what is known as a Thriving Connections leader, an individual or family who is in charge of creating his or her own plan to increase their financial, professional, and social resources to get out of poverty. And she eventually learned that her initial expectations of Thriving Connections were correct. She says the growth she has experienced through Thriving Connections have helped her in many ways, especially in communicating and handling difficult times and situations more effectively, which is helpful in personal and professional situations.

"It has given me a lot," she said. "It has boosted my self-esteem and confidence to interact with different people of different backgrounds.

"And I've been introduced to people I wouldn't have otherwise know. We've celebrated happy times and they've helped me work through the hard times."

During her time in Thriving Connections, Hodge has achieved many goals. With help from a loan which she repaid from the TC Barrier Reduction Fund and money she had saved, Tracey bought a newer car that was mechanically sound. That allowed her to be more efficient in how she used her time and not have to spend money trying to keep an old car running. Because of the increased stability that reliable transportation provided, she completed two associate degrees at Ivy Tech - the first in Office Administration and the second in Health Care Support.

The second degree, along with a very successful internship at a small offsite lab for IU Health Bloomington Hospital, has helped Hodge to land a new full-time job as a phlebotomist. After her internship, Hodge was invited to apply for the phlebotomist position. Her success at that position let to raises, promotion, and eventually a job that paid enough to allow her to become entirely financially self-sufficient and free of government support. She worked very hard with Habitat for Humanity and now has her own home so her Section 8 housing program voucher was available to help someone else. She is no longer receiving food stamps and is off the Medicaid program because she has health insurance through her employer.

"It's a good feeling," she said. "A little scary, but good feeling."

Hodge hadn't previously held a job during her time in Thriving Connections because she needed to be mostly free during the day to take care of her son, Dante, who has Asperger's Syndrome. Before that time, she had worked as a pharmacy technician.

Hodge is able to return to work now, in part, because Dante is an adult and is requiring less assistance, in fact he is taking a place of leadership within Thriving Connections as the first second generation Leader. It also helps that Hodge has an extended family in the Thriving Connections staff and her Thriving Connections allies, who are community members that form a supportive relationship with a Thriving Connections Leader to figure out how to accomplish his or her plan and to offer help in areas in which they are familiar, whether that is financial, educational, or social and community connections.

"I've got a great family, but now I've got extra people to help," she said. "I've got the support and caring of people I may not have crossed paths with. It's been surprising to see how people are so willing to step into that role and be supportive, caring and non-judgemental as they try to help other people. They are wonderful people."

Hodge has had two sets of Allies in Thriving Connections. The first were Brenda McClain, Barb McKillup, and Greg Moore. The second were Barbara Horvath and Glenn Hughes. She wants to follow their path eventually as she continues her own.

"I want to continue to help my son and to become self-sufficient and once I get my feet fully under me in a solid way to become an Ally myself and pay it forward and help someone else succeed," she said.