Escaping poverty in the Oasis
November 24, 2015
Nestled in the depths of Paterson, Oasis is a haven for women and children who are overcome by the adverse cycle of poverty. Oasis aims to revolutionize the lives of women and children who enter into their doors by breaking this cycle of poverty through programs intended to clothe, inform, feed and inspire women and children in need.
“Right now we’re working really hard on creating collaborative relationships in the community with local organizations and agencies that are serving the same population as we’re serving,” Jennifer Brady said, Executive Director of Oasis and a member of the Oasis board since 2004. “A big part of what we need to be doing is getting out and raising the money. We are operating on a budget deficit. We are bursting at the seams in terms of space. We could double every program tomorrow if we raised the money.”
Oasis caters to women and children living in the underprivileged city of Paterson. They offer adult education courses, youth development programs, basic needs and social services to individuals that need a helping hand.
“To see a woman crumble in front of you and want to give up… this is every woman’s story. She’s just having her moment, but we all have our moments. And she’s got nowhere else to go but here. We’re her only hope,” Brady said. “For a lot of these women and children, Oasis is making such a huge difference in their lives. Without us, we don’t know what would happen to them.”
Although Oasis extends its hospitality to everyone, it remains difficult for many women to accept aid. For women who fall victim to domestic violence or alcohol and drug abuse, every day is a challenge. These distresses make braving the world and getting out of bed a challenge in itself.
“It’s hard. Getting help is a change of lifestyle and there’s a fear of the unknown. You know what it is on alcohol and drugs. You know what it is on domestic violence. The women don’t just pack up and leave because they’re getting abused,” Jim Walsh said, Chief Operating Officer and Director of Youth Development Programs. “If you wake up to someone telling you every morning ‘you’re no good, you’re no good’ you’re going to think you’re no good. That’s why it takes courage to come here.”
The women of Oasis are a rare sight to see. Not because they’re off limits to journalists but because they spend the short hours of the day working from dawn until dusk, reserving the meager hours of daylight left for time with the children whom they work so hard for.
Although the stories of the women at Oasis are unique from one another, they all share a common source of hope: their children. The innocence of the children who attend Oasis radiates hope and optimism for a better future, regardless of their situation.
“Once you come down here and see the women and the children, you just fall in love and you keep coming back,” Brady said.