Oasis Provides Tools Women Need to Break the Poverty Cycle
Changing lives for the better. That’s the mission of Oasis, a non-profit foundation that helps break the cycle of poverty for women and children in Paterson. Executive Director Jennifer Brady talks to Joanna Gagis about the importance of giving women the tools they need to create a better life for themselves and their children.
"Welcome back to Life and Living. It's called Oasis - A Haven for Women & Children. And for the hundreds of Paterson families who are served here everyday, it's a chance at a better future. Joining me right now is Executive Director Jennifer Brady. Welcome to the program Jen. Thank you Joanna. It's good to have you here. I personally know a lot about this organization. I just joined the board. I want to make sure I mention that. But I joined the board for a good reason. Because I know you're doing such terrific work. Talk about what Oasis is, and the impact you're having for families in Paterson. So our mission is to help impoverished women and children rise out of poverty. And we do that through education, empowerment, and social services. So under one roof, we have a really holistic program that addresses all the issues that women have in their lives. So we provide a variety of adult education programs. We take care of their children while they're in class. We feed them. We clothe them. We give them diapers. And then we have programs just for children in the community, afterschool, Summer Camp, and a teen boys and girls program, that are having a huge impact on the lives of the poor. It's one thing to laundry list what you do. Right? Mm hmm. And it sounds so easy. It sounds easy when you rattle it off. But I know that a tremendous amount of work goes into this. Mm hmm. Let's talk first about the challenges. What are some of the greatest challenges that this community in Paterson faces? Paterson has an unemployment rate of 13%. And the poverty rate is 27%. So that's twice the state average. Unlike cities like Jersey City and Newark, there's really no corporate base to help lift the city out of that poverty. So that means no corporate support in terms of ratables, and it means a lack of jobs. So it's a really challenging environment. The academic... the educational system is hugely challenged. And so that has a trickle down effect. It means the kids that are coming are being raised in the same environment that's caused their poverty... their generational poverty to exist in Paterson. So what is the goal for those who come through the doors at Oasis? For the adult women, we really want to get them their high school equivalency degree if they don't have that already. We want to have... make sure that they can speak English if they're a new immigrant to this country. Help them with their citizenship..."