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Group photo of WINcome grantee, Full Circle of Lake County, staff in front of a rainbow wall.

WINcome Grantee, Full Circle of Lake County, Aids Immigrant Community through Cash Assistance

// August 30, 2023

*Haga clic aquí para leer el artículo en español*

For WINcome grantee, Full Circle of Lake County, Flexible Cash Assistance Allows for More Tailored Support to Expanding Immigrant Community

WINcome grantee, Full Circle of Lake County building -front.Situated in a colorful and inviting two-story building in the heart of Leadville, Full Circle of Lake County has become a celebrated community staple in the Colorado mountain town. And since its establishment in 1991, it has aimed to empower the community through youth development, family supports, resource connections, and immigrant services.

Leadville has emerged as a haven for an expanding immigrant community, drawn by the allure of service jobs within the resort and tourism sector in the nearby mountain communities of Summit and Eagle County. Frequently, they undertake lengthy commutes from Leadville to these towns where the cost of living is out of reach.

In response to the unique challenges the county’s immigrant community faces, Full Circle of Lake County’s immigrant services now also include a recently created Family Resource Center to support community members, especially those who speak Spanish, in learning about and accessing the many resources available in their local community and across the state. They also offer a Women’s Empowerment Group for Latinas to build connections, develop skills, and learn about resources and opportunities in Leadville/Lake County.

As a WINcome grant recipient, Full Circle of Lake County expanded community support through direct cash assistance, paying $250 monthly to eligible families, for up to six months. There were no restrictions on how the checks could be used by participants.

In a recent evaluation, Full Circle noted that the WINcome grant provided the opportunity to financially incentivize and support participants who were actively working toward improving the well-being of themselves and their families by establishing a family goal plan and participating in monthly check-ins with the staff.

“It is beneficial to us and the clients to have funds that can be used toward addressing the barriers that families face in achieving their goals and that can be directed by families themselves the way their family goals are,” they said.

Full Circle participant Belem addressed rising transportation costs

Belem looks down while signing a document

Since Belem arrived in Leadville from Mexico in 2001, she has counted Full Circle of Lake County among her personal supports. From when she was pregnant with her first child over two decades ago to today, she’s been taking classes and/or receiving support from the organization.

Belem most recently took GED classes offered through Full Circle and completed her GED in May – the same time her daughter graduated from high school, making it a special time for her family. She’s excited about the prospect of college, but first, she wants to take English and computer classes this summer, also offered by, or through, Full Circle.

As a recipient of flexible cash assistance through WINcome, she was also able to alleviate some of the financial burden that comes with having to commute to Vail five days a week for her job. Tuesday through Saturday, Belem drives or takes the bus an hour each way to get to work as a resort hotel’s breakfast attendant. With gas and bus fare quickly adding up, the $250 checks helped to cover those costs, with the additional funds going toward food and her family’s internet bill.

Belem expressed her gratitude, saying, “The funds were really helpful, especially for people that really needed it. It helped me a lot. I feel more relaxed and less stressed.”

Cash assistance helps alleviate a tough winter for Lina and her family

Lina smiles at the camera while holding a little girl

Lina knew of Full Circle of Lake County for a while before she began participating in their programming. She saw it as an opportunity for her children to get involved in more activities. Her youngest son loves the after-school programming that Full Circle offers. This year her family became eligible for the flexible cash assistance and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Her husband is a carpenter and often works small jobs, but during the snowy months, work slows down for him while the bills pile up. This past winter had hit their family particularly hard. Even small expenses such as lunch for her son after his football games were difficult to cover.

“As parents, we want to give our children the best, but where do we get it from?”

They used the funds to pay the electric and gas bills. Gas increased so much in 2023 that having these funds became a lifesaver. Any money leftover went to food, which included lunch for her son.

She appreciated that she and her family had the decision to utilize the funds for where they needed them the most. Anger from accumulating bills had lessened and worry over late fees on unpaid bills was relieved.

“It took a weight off my shoulders,” she said.

WINcome cash assistance aids in empowering journey for the women of Full Circle

Miriam Lozano, the Programs and Evaluation Coordinator at Full Circle of Lake County, recognizes the overall positive impact of WINcome’s cash assistance on the women served by Full Circle:

“Not only has WINcome cash assistance provided support for themselves and their families, but it has also served as a source of motivation and encouragement to continue their journey towards self-improvement and empowerment.

We have witnessed firsthand how this financial assistance has made a significant difference in the lives of these women. It has given them the means to overcome obstacles, pursue education, start businesses, and create a better future for themselves and their loved ones.”

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