Salt and Light providing new resources for low income individuals


URBANA, Ill. (WAND)- What started as a thrift store and food pantry is now helping those less fortunate break barriers.

"What we have now is a model that's built upon engaging the participants," says Nathan Montgomery the Executive Director of Salt and Light. "So, what they do is they volunteer at any non-for-profit and for every hour they work they earn store credit at minimum wage. That way, they can use the credit to shop with in our grocery and thrift store and acquiring the resources that their family needs through their own capacity."

At Salt and Light's new location in Urbana, they are providing even more opportunities and resources for those in need then before. 

"We have other educational programing from computer technology, to our work force readiness programing," added Nathan.  "Those programs provide financial education to soft skills job training. Here in Urbana, now we are providing child care for our participants working on sight or attending classes on sight so that is not an obstacle for their participation."

These opportunities aren't easy to come by for people living in poverty, which is what inspired the organization to start them.

"What we recognize is that people might need more opportunity to realize some of their potential that maybe they haven't had in the past," added Nathan. 

Those who work for the non-profit, say Salt and Light is not only helping them but the community as a whole. 

"When I was low it helped me," says Reginald Phillips a volunteer and worker for Salt and Light.  "By coming here and it also helps me to help someone else. Knowing that I'm helping someone else feels like a real blessing to me."

Salt and Light hopes that their innovative approach, will help stop the cycle of poverty. 

"Our credit system and what we have here is nothing like anything else in the country," added Nathan. "So it's really a great opportunity to kind of be ground zero for a model that really is drawing a lot of interest from other areas as organizations. Hopefully it helps those other organization work more developmentally with individuals and look for those outcomes that actually affect lasting change."

The non-for-profit organization is self sustaining and open to the public. Any time someone purchases something from the store, all the money goes back into the services they provide. If you are interested in donating, or getting involved you can find out more about Salt and Light by visiting their website and Facebook page.

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