Coach helps people ‘Thrive’

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PENDLETON — Langa Floyd has been helping people move forward in their lives for much of her life now, offering assistance in matters of money, employment, education and more.
“I’ve kind of always been that way, just helping my neighbor, or someone in the community, or a stranger,” said Floyd, who brings her skills to Pendleton on a weekly basis as an income support coach. “I’ve always wanted to offer assistance to just help people.”
Floyd is employed by Anderson Impact Center, in a position funded by United Way as part of its Thrive Network partnership.
Thrive’s slogan: “Helping hardworking people achieve financial stability.”
Floyd recently started providing personalized coaching on a variety of subjects from 3 to 5 p.m. Tuesdays at Pendleton Community Public Library.
Floyd, 50, who lives in McCordsville but is originally from Anderson and has lived in Indianapolis, has honed her skills through decades, she said.
“I have been doing this for Thrive for more than three years, but I worked as an administrator for (an Indianapolis church) ministry for eight years, and so I kind of already had been doing this.
“People will go to the pastor for assistance, and they would need employment help, they would need housing,” she said. “When people come to you with a spiritual issue, more than likely there’s a fiscal issue that’s underlying it, or related to it. And, so, that was just one of my gifts, to be able to kind of navigate those things.
“It just came naturally. That’s how this job just kind of fit me, because I had already been doing literally this exact same thing, getting people connected with resources and reaching out to different agencies and just asking what’s available. How can I get somebody from our church into this training program, or anything like that? So, I’m doing the exact same thing.”
Even before that, while she ran her own catering business for 15 years and before that, she was helping out.
“I still helped people in my neighborhood, my community,” she said. “People would get letters from the food stamp office, and they didn’t understand what they needed to do. And I kind of helped with that, always had a group of seniors, I call them my Golden Girls, that I help with.”
Her drive to help came from her own experiences early in life and how she worked to get ahead, using whatever resources were available as a “springboard” to better herself and her family.
She said she wanted to share her know-how with others who might be facing the same or similar challenges to what she faced, and show them how to lift themselves up.
“I have been on food stamps, I have had Section 8 (housing assistance), I have dealt with the difficulties of trying to find the resources for child care,” she said. “And so, I am very familiar of the struggle. And I have not forgotten what that’s like.
“And so, it might be distant, but those lessons and some of those trials and struggles have helped me become who I am right now and have given me a voice to help those who are where I came from.”
A big part of the job is showing people there is a path forward — that their problems are surmountable.
“Without hope, you can’t move forward,” Floyd said. “And some people, they just need that. Even if they just have to lean on your hope a little bit.”
The following is a transcript from a recent conversation with Floyd. It has been edited for length and flow.
Is this the first time you’ve come to Pendleton, or that someone from the center has offered this service in Pendleton?
The United Way wanted to expand Thrive into Pendleton, since we already have coaches in Alexandria and some other places who are there maybe once a week, similar to how I’m at the library, and the assistant director of the United Way, she knew my concern about some of the people in the more rural areas. Anderson typically gets a lot of the focus, a lot of the dollars, and things like that, and we come in contact with some clients who are in Pendleton who are lacking resources. And so, it’s kind of like, a coming together of the minds, so to speak.
Because I was just so concerned, you know, rural America is turning into, like, how the cities were, the more urban areas, they’re just underserved. And so we spoke with (Pendleton Community Public Library Director) Lynn (Hobbs), and we’ve worked with Miss Lynn Hobbs before with different initiatives, and we thought it’d just be a good idea to do that. And that’s how it came about.
How long have you been doing this in Pendleton now?
It’s been a couple of months. It was slow starting, but actually it’s really growing. I think people are surprised about the breadth of resources that I can help them with. I’m not surprised by anything. Nothing really shocks me about a need. And if I don’t know, I just find it. I just find the resource. It takes a little bit of, you know, research, or sometimes a little digging, but usually it’s there.
How many people do you think you’ve spoken to or helped out (in Pendleton)?
We have at least 10 people. And three or four of those I am still working with, which is the collaboration — and that’s the difference between Thrive and some other services — is that is it’s coaching and not case management. And so, I’ve spoken with actually three or four of those individuals — which I love, that continual engagement with them — that typically helps them be more successful. It just depends on where you are. We meet you where you are. So, some people need a little more and some people, they just need a springboard to help move them forward.
What’s the difference between coaching and case management?
Case management is, “I give you this, and you do what I say. You have to follow by these requirements.” Coaching is more of a collaboration. It is, “You do what you’re supposed to do, and I’m going to do what I’m supposed to do to help you do what you’re supposed to do.” It’s more collaboration. It’s not me dictating to you what you need to do or what you have to do. It’s more guidance. It’s more, we’re personal cheerleaders. We just help people from where they are. Personally, let me just start with this, personally, in addition to Thrive, my goal is to, for everyone I encounter, is to achieve some level of self advocacy. Because once they get to that point, then now they can begin to manage those barriers and issues that come into their lives. … It’s a judgment-free zone, I often explain to individuals I’ve been on the other side of this desk, so I understand. I have a unique perspective when it comes to serving individuals, because I’ve been there. I’ve navigated some of these resources before, and I’m aware of some of the barriers, but it’s really like cheerleading, that’s really what it is. And the program doesn’t end, it’s continual. However, whenever they need support, we’re here. I just had someone call me, and I haven’t spoken to them in six months, and they were just checking in about a resource — I was glad to hear from them. And sometimes I reach out to people I haven’t talked to in several months, and I’ll say, “Hey, I have this resource for you. Oh, I’m just checking in, how’s it going?” And I’ll let them know I want to hear from you in good and bad. No matter what’s going on, let’s make sure that we’re in communication, because that’s where that important part of that collaboration comes in, because in case management, you know, there’s a time limit, there’s a way that you’re supposed to reengage, and things like that. We don’t really have that, those limitations.
For those you’ve seen and spoken to in Pendleton, are there any commonalities between them? Are they completely all over the board needs, different needs?
Some of the common issues that I’m seeing, is utility assistance and … the lack of affordable housing. Because a lot of the landlords, I guess, or the homeowners are moving back to their home. I’ve had at least two people who, the landlord has told them, “So we’re going to be moving back in the home. When your lease is up, you’re going to have to move.” … So, it’s just been kind of difficult to, if they want to stay in Pendleton, to find safe, decent affordable housing. And, of course, transportation — that’s an issue everywhere, but we’ve been fortunate that most of our participants do have their own transportation. But I know that navigating, if you don’t have a car in Pendleton, is also an issue. … Our country itself is really geared toward individual transportation, at the heart, then you’ve got these cities that are mapped out for individual transportation and not mass transportation. And so it makes it difficult to, you know, go back the other way, because you’ve planned our streets, and sidewalks and all these other things.
How many organizations do you work with as you’re helping your clients?
Let me start here: I am absolutely shameless. I am absolutely shameless, so I don’t mind asking. It would be too many for me to probably number or remember, because I reach out to any and every place I can to locate resources to try to fill a need. So, whether that’s the Jane Pauley Center, whether it’s a food pantry, … I mean, you name it. Community Hospital for car seats. I’ve reached out to the police department about safe sleep areas for people who are living in their cars. Any and every organization I’ve practically called. I believe in the power of asking, and so, a lot of people don’t know there’s a need unless you ask about it.
Do you find most of the time (organizations you call) step up?
Yeah. Most of the time they are helpful. Sometimes I may not be calling the right person, so it might take a few tries to get to the exact person I’m supposed to be talking to. But most of the time people, they are very helpful. Even if they can’t help, what I find is they often direct me somewhere that can or possibly can, so that’s why the power of asking, because if they don’t know or they don’t have it, they more than likely know who can help.
Getting back to what you’re seeing in Pendleton specifically — the housing issue. (Is it that there’s just) not enough affordable housing?
Yes, and there’s an assumption that there’s no housing issue, you know, there’s like no poor people in Pendleton. There’s this assumption that you don’t have individuals in a certain income bracket there, but the reality of it is that in some of the wealthier ZIP codes you still have poor people, because you have to have people working at the gas station, working at the restaurants, and all these other things, (and) they typically are paid less. And they very likely, most of them, can’t afford to live in that area. … But the housing, it’s just not enough. And I think that’s just everywhere. Particularly for one bedroom, you need a one- or a two-bedroom, this is a whole problem, because people don’t typically move out of those units, because there’s not enough of them. … And also, too, as with the smaller part of the county, you have more multi-
generational families. And so, more than one generation living in a household, and so once the parent has moved to a nursing home or they pass away, then typically the remaining generation cannot afford the home anymore. And, so, that’s another issue I’ve seen, as well.
What is the issue with utilities, typically?
So, the utilities, they typically can get the services on. Pendleton utility office, they are wonderful with that. They are also very good working with clients on their bills. … It’s just the cost of utilities has gone up …. the pandemic has kind of exacerbated that because you’re home all the time, so you’re using more, which makes the bills higher, and I think the bills are just higher in general, is what the problem is, as opposed to this time last year. So in 2019, your bill might have $100; well, in 2020, 2021, that bill is $175, and it doesn’t seem like a whole lot to some people, but when you’re on a limited income and a budget, it makes a huge difference.
Do most people have restrictions, like either health, even mental health, or do they have these obstacles that are somewhat difficult to overcome?
Well, I would say that 50% of the people that I see, they have some type of health issue that is a barrier for them. Whether that’s mental or physical, they have some type of barrier. The other half, they have some barriers, but they’re not self-imposed, if that makes sense — it’s a system barrier. So, for example, I have a gentleman who is on Social Security Disability who wants to work, and so he found a part-time job, but … this person is not technologically savvy, either, to use a computer to report his work hours. … They have some barriers, but we can work with those as long as they are acknowledged … we may have to take more steps, or … go a different route because of those barriers, but it’s still possible.
Of all the people who have come to you, in Pendleton at least, have you been able to help each and every one of them to move forward in some way?
Yes, I would say so. We still have a few who have the unemployment overpayment issue … they were told that they were eligible for the funds and then they were sent a notice that they weren’t. … “you owe us $13,000,” or, you know, whatever. Just appealing it, making sure they didn’t miss any deadlines, and things like that.
To reach Floyd, call 765-233-6092 or email [email protected]