The seed for Riverview Gardens grew out of Executive Director Cindy Sahotsky’s participation in the inaugural class of the executive Social Innovation Leadership Experience (SILE) sponsored by Marquette University, the J. J. Keller Foundation and the U.S. Venture Fund for Basic Needs. Poverty and homelessness have many causes and cannot be resolved through shelter alone. Some source of income is required to be eligible for transitional housing, and it is often impossible to secure employment without a current address and recent work history.
According to the Fox Cities Leading Indicators for Excellence (LIFE) Study in 2011, the primary main reason for poverty and homelessness is unemployment. As we work with individuals in our innovative job-training program, the number of high school youth and young adults aging out of foster care and other juvenile programs needing assistance has grown. The cycle of poverty and homelessness continues generation to generation. In order to break the cycle, we have to address the lack of transferable skills and employment among the high school youth and young adults in our community.
Additionally, the Fox Cities Housing Coalition commissioned a study entitled Research to Understand and Solve Homelessness (RUSH) in 2015. Among other key challenges addressed, the RUSH Study indicated that there is a growing population of people unstably housed and doubled up. People living in poverty and homelessness are socially isolated and have high unemployment. Riverview Gardens is at the vanguard of addressing these challenges.
Riverview Gardens was created in not only to respond to many of the community’s critical needs, but also to change the paradigm for addressing them. Riverview Gardens is transforming lives, land and non-profit ideas. Social innovation approaches are adaptive, continuously evolving and improving, and Riverview Gardens is committed to evaluation and reflection.