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Of course, Sharon Fullilove and Diane Appiah are missing the $500 cash they each received for 12 months from the Gary GIVE initiative, a no strings attached gift that only required them to report how the money was spent.
Each described being selected for the program as reaffirming their faith in God and their fellow man.
“I have never won anything, when Ms. Peoples called, I couldn’t believe it,” said Fullilove.
“The price for my insulin medication had doubled from $400 to $800 a month. And I didn’t have medical insurance. This was a gift from God and I am so thankful.”
Ms. Peoples is Prophetess Burgess Peoples, director of Gary’s Guaranteed Income Validation Effort or GIVE.
Appiah’s life had turned upside down. With 2 children in college, she only had social security to rely on when she could no longer work a part-time job. Appiah’s son had a full scholarship, but her daughter didn’t and needed help. The monthly cash replaced the salary she had lost.
“It allowed me to go down to Bloomington and help out my son and his wife who had just given birth,” Appiah said. Prior to getting the GIVE grant, she was only able to send what little extra money she had. “It was God who put this in their hands to do this.”
Fullilove and Appiah were at the Thursday, July 28th celebration and wrap-up of the pilot program that launched in May 2021 when Gary became the 36th city to join Mayors for a Guaranteed Income. The pilot programs are also called demonstration projects – showing how a guaranteed or basic income can better the lives of the nation’s citizens and to show the need for federal and state help to make it happen.
It is an initiative asking the nation’s leaders to rethink its policies on poverty, on the lives of the low income and working poor that offers the solution of a guaranteed income.
Mayor Prince said the Gary GIVE program gave 125 residents “the little bit more that was needed each month to fix their cars so they could get to work, to buy good clean food to improve their quality of life, to improve their health, and to even take their children on vacation.”
“If we continue to multiply that, we start to realize a better community, a better state, and a better country. We can give our friends and neighbors the means to lift themselves up. We open our hearts and minds to the fact that there is great potential in everyone,” Mayor Prince said.
GIVE also offered free classes on money management, help with personal resources, entrepreneurship and educational opportunities.
Each MGI city set its own selection criteria and cash assistance amount, with the same no strings attached rule and reporting requirement of how the cash was spent each month. Gary’s GIVE program set a goal to help make 125 of its residents lives more livable.
An applicant had to be age 18 or older with a yearly income not greater than $35,000. There was not a work requirement. “They could be single, married with or without children, senior citizens. We wanted it open to everybody,” Peoples said.
Today, the number of MGI cities has grown to 85. Results in Gary matched reporting data from other MGI cities. According to Indiana University Northwest Professor Surekha Rao, who analyzed the GIVE data, funds were spent on basic necessities like food, gas, and medicines.
Half of the GIVE recipients said the cash helped provide for the roofs over their heads. Rao found, “The overwhelming majority agreed that GIVE funds were critical to continue to stay in their homes.”
Fullilove now has medical insurance. Appiah paid off some bills and is now saving that money to buy a house.
The GIVE Year-In-Review Report stated, “We have raised $900,000 and to date GIVE has disbursed $750,000 to recipients of the guaranteed income pilot.” Its major funders were Mayors for a Guaranteed Income Foundation, Mayor Jerome Prince – City of Gary ARPA Funds, Centier Bank, The Peoples Family Trust, Corrie and Andrew Pudymaitis, and The City of Refuge Christian Church NWI.