Beyond the Basics: Paving the Path to Self-Sufficiency

Article and pictures by Urban Alliance staff. 

Think about your last meal. Or your last trip to the grocery store. Did you have to worry about having enough socks, warm clothing or even soap when you needed it? Do you have a safe place to lay your head at night?

Some of these very basic aspects of a typical daily routine pose significant struggles for many in our local community. For some of our neighbors, access to fresh, healthy and affordable food is extremely limited. Instead of supermarkets and grocery stores, many only have access to fast food restaurants and convenience stores that offer few healthy, affordable food options.

And for others, as winter looms, so does the anxiety of being able to be warm by necessary clothing and housing.

Through Beyond the Basics, local churches and organizations are providing immediate relief for these basic needs by supplying free meals, clothing and housing to those in need. And, they are also working to collectively increase the quality and impact of basic needs services by meeting together monthly, exchanging resources and information, and offering case management to help those utilizing their services to move towards self-sufficiency.

Recently, six churches and organizations in the Urban Alliance network who participate in Beyond the Basics received training on Motivational Interviewing (MI), a collaborative, client-centered approach to supporting individuals as they face uncertainty about behavior change. MI is designed to strengthen personal motivation for and commitment to a specific goal by eliciting and exploring a person's own reasons for change, within an atmosphere of acceptance and compassion," explained Jessica Sanderson, Urban Alliance's Senior Director of Research and Strategy.

By applying MI skills to case management as well as providing services that meet basic needs, these ministries have an increased capacity to help people become more self-sufficient.

In addition to this, Urban Alliance has developed a Beyond the Basics Hartford Resource Guide that provides information about local programs and services to help address the underlying barriers people face in becoming self-sufficient, such as housing, employment, insurance and education. The guide will be used by case managers to help connect their clients to those additional services.

These ministries will also be participating in World Vision's Essential Supplies Program (ESP), which provides gifts-in-kind, such as clothing and toiletries, to ministries serving under-resourced families. The items provided by World Vision will help meet immediate basic needs and increase the scope and impact of these ministries.

Through Beyond the Basics, we are working together to ensure that our neighbors are provided with their most basic needs, but even more importantly, are working to build self-sufficiency to become healthy and whole as God intended.

Here's How YOU Can Help:

  • Volunteer! There are many ways to help at local basic needs ministries and programs, both during the week and on weekends! For more info, contact Sarah Thompson at
  • Give! Click here to support the ongoing provision of case management through Beyond the Basics.
  • Contribute! We are continuing to build the Beyond the Basics Hartford Resource Guide. If you know of a helpful resource to include in the guide, contact Angela Colantonio at

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