By Anna Lothson
In eight years, the Walk-In Ministry, a local nonprofit assisting residents struggling with financial hardship and striving to achieve stability, has served 4,000 clients.
The organization will continue that goal but now with a new name and mission that aims to bring a fresh and positive outlook for the people who seek its services. As of April 9, it is officially known as Prevail to provide a clearer and simpler message about what the group hopes to help people do.
"We've been growing and changing a lot over the last several years," said Cristy Harris, executive director of the agency. "The timing just seemed right to renew our outreach to the community, to reach out and let the community know what we do. … There is a lot of energy and aspiration behind the name."
Harris said the organization's board underwent a strategic plan process during the past nine months in hopes of refocusing how the group and its goals are represented within the community. It was determined that a fresh website, a new name and a clear message is the best way to achieve this. Moving forward, however, the focus will be on getting the name out there and reminding people that Prevail is available to help.
The new mission statement conveys that in a more direct way, Harris said, which she believes reflects more on what the organization has been doing and can do for others.
"Prevail provides immediate and compassionate response to individuals and families facing financial crisis and offers them supportive services leading to future stability," reads the updated mission statement.
Harris said this message demonstrates that the heart of what Prevail does, which is to offer moral and emotional support to those who are stuck in financial straits. The new name underscores this.
"We want to make sure that everyone knows these services are here," Harris said. "There is a lot of need in the community, but I'm not sure everyone knows we are here. We want to spread the word that we are here to help."
In the past two years, Walk-In Ministry grew from providing emergency services for those facing financial hardship to introducing programs that seek to resolve the underlying challenges and causes. Harris said the agency is the "frontline organization" in the community to address these needs. Prevail reflects that with its new mission statement.
The growing number of new clients faced with unemployment, said added, makes Prevail's services needed more than ever. More than 8 percent of residents in the surrounding 12 zip codes live at the poverty level or below.
Prevail will also be doubling its public service hours at First United Church of Oak Park, 848 Lake St. To learn more about volunteering or services Prevail provides, visit the new website, PrevailOn.org, or call 708-386-1946.