Residential Group Homes
The residential component of the Goodwill Agents International offers a variety of residential opportunities for persons with mental retardation in small community settings. Participants are provided skills training, support, and supervision on an individual basis and are given the opportunity for personal growth and independence. To achieve these, the agency established Group Homes and Supported Living Programs.
The group homes offer 24-hour supervision and a small staff to resident ratio. Each home provides a family atmosphere with four to seven individuals living together. Some of the group homes provide awake, overnight coverage that will be appropriate for individuals with significant disabilities. Others provide support for elderly adults who no longer wish to participate in a day program.
The supported living program provide a less structured living environment for persons who are able to live independently with staff support 1 to 5 hours a day, 5 to 7 days a week. Each resident in the supported living program receive the amount of supervision necessary to provide for his/her safety while allowing for autonomy and independence. Residents live alone, or with roommate, in apartments or townhouses.
The goal of both programs is to foster independence in individuals challenged with mental and physical disabilities.
In the United States, a commonly accepted guideline for housing affordability is a housing cost that does not exceed 30% of a household’s gross income. Housing costs considered in this guideline generally include taxes and insurance for owners, and sometimes include utility costs. When the monthly carrying costs of a home exceed 30–35% of household income, then the housing is considered unaffordable for that household.
Strong competition for limited low rent accommodation both in the United States of America and in other parts of the world is seeing those most in need being squeezed out of the market. The result is the social risk management issues for the many disadvantaged groups who most need help are not being adequately addressed.
Recently, concerns have been raised about the provision of affordable private rental housing in the city of New York in particular and in developing countries in general. There is no doubt that the private rental market is very difficult to negotiate for low-income renters. The inflation rise in rents further compounds the pressure on the low cost end of the market. The impact of these trends appears even more serious when we consider that private rental is being used as a longer term housing option by a significant proportion of low to middle income earners.
Recent reports have pointed to the impacts of these characteristics of the market on the nature and extent of homelessness. For this reason it is not surprising that various studies have pointed to the need for increased provision of low cost housing for private rental. Thus affordability has found its way into many discussions on housing policy in relation to the private rental sector as an end in itself – the reasons we aspire to this goal are so obvious they almost go without saying.
Thus, GAI’s goal in addressing affordability is to intervene in peoples’ access to housing. Our strategy for developing affordable rental housing will be to acquire (via purchase or net lease) vacant, substandard buildings, and, using a combination of Government grants and donations from individuals and funding agencies rehabilitate them.
In order to be eligible for the program, tenants must have a family income that falls below specified limits established by the federal government and the State of New York. Applicants’ income will be computed by the management agent for the development, according to rules and regulations set by the state and/or federal governments.
GAI’s Housing Committee has develop eligibility criteria. These criteria, approved by the board will be used for deciding which persons and families are eligible to live in the housing units. Factors for determining tenant selection may include but not limited to: credit history, prior criminal convictions, prior rental experience and other factors. GAI does not discriminate in selecting tenants based on race, color, national origin, sex, religion, marital status, height, weight, or handicap. GAI however, may discriminate based on age only at developments reserved for the elderly.
Community Development Education
Central to the development philosophy of GAI is the belief in the people’s capacity to develop themselves and their communities using their indigenous knowledge systems, processes and local resources/assets. Therefore, the Community Development Education Program is geared towards enhancing people’s capacity to liberate themselves and their societies from the factors that limit the realization of their abundant lives and the sustainability of their societies and environment. Through this program, GAI creates a conducive learning environment in which the participants and the agency identify, analyze, challenge and critique, in an informed manner the multiple frames of development with a view to searching both individually and collectively available human and non-human assets that would solve the problems that limit the advancement and sustainability of human and non-human environments.
The GAI offers a variety of enjoyable, year-round leisure activities to participants of all ages. The program is designed to be fun while building self-confidence and developing social skills.
Participants are offered the opportunity to experience social, cultural, educational, and physical fitness activities. Dances, museum outings, sports events, children’s festivals, and trips are a few of the interesting and instructional activities offered throughout the year.
Rehabilitation and Vocational Skills Training
Our Rehabilitation and Vocational Skills Training programs is designed to help person’s with disabilities develop marketable skills for competitive work. Examples of such skills will include Auto-Mechanics, Computers, Carpentry, Black-Smithery, Plumbing, Pottery, Janitorial/Maintenance, Micrographics and Packaging/Assembly.
When work skills and behaviors improve, they will be placed in the community.
Community Economic Development Programs
At GAI, we believe that people cannot be developed, they can develop themselves. Therefore in our work with people living in poor rural and urban communities in the Global South, GAI strives to provide the following:
(a) Farm Tractor and Food Processing services to local farmers associations. This will reduce manual labor, increase production and enhance the quality of the produce;
(b) Small Business Development and Management and Income generating programs and
(c) Savings and Micro-Credit programs.
Environmental Development Programs:
Goodwill Agents International Inc. encourage and promote Sustainable Development programs that will meet the needs of present generations without jeopardizing the needs of futures generations. Our goal is to expedite natural processes in rebuilding a healthy, functioning natural ecosystem. The programs seek to enhance better quality of life for everyone, now and for generations to come. They offer grassroots communities a vision of progress that integrates immediate and longer-term needs, local and global needs, and regards social, economic and environmental needs as inseparable and interdependent components of human progress. Such programs include Planting trees, shrubs and groundcover, including design of native plant landscapes; Restoration of neighborhood parks, Invasive plant removal and control, including mulching to exclude weed seed/rhizomes; Removing abandoned logging on roads; Removing culverts and restoring stream channels; Erosion control and bank stabilization; Stewardship and monitoring; Nursery construction and management; Project management, design and funding.
GAI believes that these programs create a sense of community ownership and responsibility for our natural resources, foster cross-cultural and intergenerational understanding, promote civic engagement and encourage volunteerism.
Community Health Education (e.g. HIV / AIDS, Malaria,etc) programs
The spread of diseases like HIV and AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis wreak havoc in poor countries. In 2002, 42 million adults and five million children were living with HIV and AIDS and 95% of those people were in developing countries. Seven out of 10 were in Sub-Saharan Africa. Malaria, a wholly treatable disease, is thought to account for up to 25% of child deaths in the developing world, while tuberculosis kills about two million people a year.
As well as the personal tragedy, these diseases are also having a devastating effect on the economies and social development of poor countries. For example, in 1999 an estimated 860,000 African children lost their teachers to AIDS. As an agency, we support the millennium development goal of halting the spread of HIV and AIDS, malaria and other major diseases by 2015. To this end, we invest time and resources in providing more health information, especially for young people and promoting greater access to contraceptives and treatment for sexual infections.
Advocacy and Networking
GAI will be engaged in a wide range of advocacy and networking activities in order to increase the visibility and impact of our work for gender equality, and influence policymakers and public opinion.
In cooperation with partners, GAI implement campaigns to advance women’s rights. We support partner organizations’ advocacy for policy and legislative change at the national level. Our aim is to raise the international visibility of partner campaigns, using communications tools such as Human Rights Alerts, eNews, and our website, as well as hosting events for activists, policymakers, media, and the public.
GAI support and is willing to partner with any number of important social justice networks that addresses gender, children, youth, democracy and intercultural issues.
Guidance and Counseling Services
GAI’s guidance and Counseling Services promote the efficient and happy lives of individuals by helping them adjust to social realities. The focus of these services is to help people / participants understand their potentialities and liabilities and make intelligent personal and vocational decisions. Counseling is done individually or in groups.
Research Cooperation and Sharing
GAI participate in research and sharing of information with other organizations that shares the same or similar beliefs, mission and vision in promoting equal and equitable opportunities for all peoples.
Bi- Lateral Relationship
At GAI, we believe that most communities in developing countries have the genuine desire to develop their environment but lack the economic ability to do so. Also, due to circumstances beyond their control, most of them do not have the opportunity to attract such economic power on their own. As a result, they rely on the assistance of other established organizations to help them establish relationships or partnership with funding partners in developed countries.
To help such community groups achieve this goal, GAI plays the role of identifying, evaluating and recommending such groups to partner organizations that manifest interest in providing funding to communities in developing countries. In addition GAI acts as the link between the funding source and the community groups by receiving, disbursing and monitoring the funds in other to ensure that they are utilized for the purpose intended.
The goal of the program is to help grassroots groups in developing countries improve their quality of life by supporting the implementations of their activities while at the same time enabling our funding partners to make a “whole – life impact” in their communities.