Friends in Action of the Eastern Panhandle (FIAEP) is a 501© (3) non-profit organization, a member of the United Way of the Eastern Panhandle Federation. The mission is to assist low-income families in the community to reach goals that will assist them with self-sufficiency and their personal well-being. FIAEP recruits and trains mentor teams, linking them with families in need. Mentor teams commit to working with a family for 12 months, providing friendship, support, guidance, advocacy, tutoring, and other services based on the talents of the team and the needs of the family. They work to maximize the family's independence and to reach economic, social, educational and work-related goals that might seem insurmountable.
During 2007, FIAEP recruited and trained 29 mentor volunteers who worked with 12 families. In addition to the three team trainings that were held, an additional team in-service training was provided.
Examples of services delivered by mentor teams include assistance in obtaining eye glasses, child care, transportation to appointments, assistance with car repair/maintenance, budgeting assistance, mediating family disputes, assistance in finding permanent employment, encouraging cultural endeavors, boosting self-confidence, donating household goods and clothing, providing emotional support, help earning a driver’s license, translating for parent/teacher meetings and helping aquire and move into permanent housing.
In addition to the help that was given, the mentors have grown in their awareness and understandings of the intricacies and impact of poverty and several have sought additional ways to serve low-income families.