Local Nonprofit Provides a Pathway Out of Poverty (and You Can Help!)

The mission at HHP/helping hand partners is to create sustainable livelihoods and job opportunities for people with barriers to employment. Every day, this Chicago-based nonprofit is striving to do just that.

HHP is able to fulfill its mission in several ways. The first is through the vast knowledge of promotional, incentive and retail product channels processed by President and Founder Mike Arkes and Executive Vice President Dena Hirschberg, as well as the increasing demand from companies for socially responsible products.

HHP partners with these companies to bring artisan and social enterprise goods to the forefront. For instance, companies looking to produce branded items for events or employees would turn to HHP for offerings that are fair-trade and responsibly made. Corporate gifts, mileage and employee recognition rewards are just a few examples of programs that work with HHP in a similar way. The bottom line is that doing good is good for business.

“Companies and consumers are seeing the business value and societal benefits of choosing products that are fair trade, fair wage and eco-friendly,” says Hirschberg. “We are able bring free education, daycare, healthcare and needed benefits to our artisan-partners by putting their products in front of distribution channels they would not have access to normally.”

HHP also has its own social enterprise brand, 1eleven™, a luxury bath and spa line that  provides job opportunities and a career path for adults from underserved communities in Chicago. All of their beautiful handcrafted soaps, candles, bath melts, and bath salts are handmade and provide a pathway out of poverty. HHP works with the Cara Program, a job training and placement organization, to find employees and bring them onboard. They are provided with training, mentorship, and the opportunity for advancement within the company.

Helping Hand Partners: 1eleven

One great example of an HHP success story is Shanika Smith. Since her hiring through Cara in August of 2016, she has progressed from a temporary hire to a supervisor to the Manager of Warehouse/Fulfillment. Most recently, she has added management of the entire 1eleven™ line to her growing list of responsibilities. As someone who started as a young single mother with no work experience, Smith feels extremely thankful to the Cara Program and HHP.

“The first day I walked in the doors I felt at home,” Smith says. “I’m learning so much every day, because everyone comes to work with a mission to help everyone else.”

Helping Hand Partners: Shanika Smith

Shanika Smith

Now Smith is on the other side of the process, choosing new associates to join HHP from the Cara Program.

“I’m loving interviewing associates that have curiosity in them,” Smith says. “I love picking out the ones that I think would fit well here and are looking to have a career and better their lives, rather than just have a paycheck.”

This desire to change lives through job creation is at core of HHP’s mission, and the belief  that every new hire has potential and should be given the ability to grow, thrive and learn from other members of the team.

“We want everyone to have a path toward a career and a path toward success,” says Hirschberg. “We’ve called this process ‘HHP University,’ and education and cross-departmental training is a great way to expand our horizons and learn new and valuable skills.”

HHP is doing more than providing jobs — they are providing a career path and pathway out of poverty. To fund these efforts, HHP will host their third annual fundraiser at Manny’s Cafeteria and Delicatessen on Sept. 14, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Attendees can enjoy a great meal, silent auction, and inspiring words.

“I want people to really hear these stories, to know that everyone deserves a chance and an opportunity,” Hirschberg says. “We all have a story, and we’re just here to help each other.”

Tickets for the event can be purchased on Eventbrite.


Read more about HHP on our website or visit helpinghandpartners.com.