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Why Grace in Action?

Because I believe that when you have an idea that can change people's lives for the better, it's worth the effort. That's why!

How did GIA come to be?

GIA began back in 2016 when I was working as a family support worker for Healthy Families America. Soon after I transitioned from social work to technical recruiting many of my the families began contacting me asking me if I can continue supporting them as they no longer qualified for HFA program. 

Naturally I said yes. I started by grabbing food cans, pasta and other food items from my pantry. Clothes from my closet or chairs from my living room. My daughter and I would put everything in bags and deliver it to the families. I also reached out to my network and other nonprofits for support. At the time I was working with Sridhar Oruganti, one of the managers at Amazon, he was and still is a big supporter. He would donate from his own money for me to take the kids on trips and buy them Christmas gifts. 

I simply couldn't say no to helping them so I found ways to do it. One thing led to the other and years years, what began as a community initiative turned into Grace in Action nonprofit organization.

Basic needs support are an important aspect of what we do, but we are much more focused on being a vector of lasting change.

High valued skills, like cybersecurity skills, can do that for people. For example, if a family living under the poverty line suddenly have someone in their family, for example their 20 year old daughter or son, making over $80,000 a year, that entire family would break free from the toxic cycle of scarcity. That's what I mean by lasting change.

What's your vision as the founder?

Simple, for Grace in Action to be a vector of economic, psychological and emotional change for people from impoverished communities around NJ and NY.

Why adding mindfulness to a technology program?

In order for me to answer that question we first need to talk about some of the psychological challenges "my people" struggle with.

One factor often overlooked by many community initiatives is the psychological challenges many individuals living under the poverty line constantly face.

When your entire life has been about surviving rather than thriving, your mind is wired differently, research shows.

Anxieties, PTSD, deep seated feelings of inferiority among other things play a very significant role when it comes to people's own perception of progress.

If at a minimum, a person can't visualize things going their way because all they know is struggle and oppression (job losses, street violence, dysfunctional families, health issues, no insurance, abusive relationships, police brutality...) as service providers, how can we pretend that these individuals can easily sit through long hours of training which as we know requires discipline, focus, emotional intelligence, consistency while dealing with such struggles? It makes no sense, at least to me. Socioeconomic issues play an even bigger part but that's a story for another day!

The tech industry is often described as "drinking from a fire hose" the least I want is to help bring people into the industry that soon after will start developing even more psychological problems that very often lead to addiction or other disorders. It's sadly a pretty common pattern in the industry. The mindfulness portion of the training aim to address these issues while students go through the course.

I have over 15 years of experience working with underprivileged communities and for over 6 years I have been providing holistic therapies to individuals from some of the most impoverished areas in the tri-state area which means, individuals with severe psychological challenges. But I am not a psychologist. That's why we have our board of advisors, to ensure we do it right!

Aside from my personal experience we are lucky to have Duane Dunston as our Curriculum Director and board advisor. Duane is a former Associate professor at the university or Vermont. He is currently pursuing his Doctorate of Education focusing on cognition and learning. We also  count with the support of professional psychologists and therapists.

Lastly, why the name Grace in Action?

The word grace has various meanings. Two of those are honor and unmerited help. I fell in love with these two definitions when I first came across it, so I decided to go with it despite it's religious tone.

The definition, unmerited help drives the point home.

Our motto is: 

 "If we can, we should!"

meaning if we can help others, we should do it!

Meet our founder: Mission
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