In October, 2014, we officially became a 501c(3) non-profit corporation. Our mission was to serve those less fortunate, the impoverished, immigrants, single parents and those who had experienced loss of jobs and more. We called the company, Five Flags Company, Inc. to focus on the five values; Integrity, Mutual Respect, Responsibility, Transparency and Purpose; that is, to stop poverty and create jobs.
At first, we visited Port Richmond, Staten Island, where we met with women who were eager to learn. Women came to ask us whether their husbands could participate. We did not want to turn anyone away. And so we decided to help both men and women. This was the beginning of our venture.
In 2015, The Year of Financial Literacy, we worked with Connie Thanasoulis from Six Figure Start. Mrs. Thanasoulis had worked on Wall Street and was very well informed about the steps toward Financial Success. We also spoke with Andy Posner, CEO of Capital Good Fund. Andy sent us a copy of his Curriculum Guide for Financial Literacy. We began to focus on this topic as a goal. We believed that Financial education would be imperative if our clients were to maintain the financial stability required for building entrepreneurships and climbing the Ladder of Financial Empowerment. We instructed the clients on how to save, spend and manage their money. We also taught them how to involve their family members at Family Meetings and addressed the issues of Good Health Maintenance, budgeting, and much more. If a family was in financial difficulty, we completed Financial Intervention at their homes.
We also did Credit Repair. The result was that the men and women we trained were becoming stronger financially.
When we developed relationships with them, we discovered their multiple challenges. While several wanted to start their own businesses, they were still struggling to pay for food, rent, transportation and health care. Without a car, they were financially handicapped and without jobs that paid a living wage, they were unable to MOVE FORWARD. We began to help them develop a step by step plan for Financial Success. And so, our Networking Meetings began. They would break into small groups and share what they had achieved and how they would move forward to achieve their next steps toward success.
We also reached out to several other non-profit organizations on Staten Island. We realized that we could do much more if we worked with other companies that were also working for those less fortunate. We also worked with Wagner College Interns who did an amazing job helping us to get our 501© 3 status. They also helped us to get our website up and running. We exchanged ideas and the picture of how we were going to help the people began to change from a shadowy picture to one that became vividly clear.
In 2015 to date, we saw the large numbers of people on Staten Island that were standing on food lines to get food a few times a week. We observed that these people were spending so much time walking or taking buses to get their food. Hours were spent walking here and there, waiting for and riding the city buses and feeling as if they were going nowhere. After working long hours and barely making enough to survive, they were losing hope. We offered them the opportunity to receive food deliveries at their homes once a week. We also passed out Guides to Food Pantries throughout the island. Next, we observed that the elderly standing on the food lines had no carts to help them carry the food home. We knew we could help. So we completed a Proposal identifying the need. And the Staten Island Notre Dame Fund responded. During the past two years, we distributed 59 shopping carts and we hope to continue to do so each year.
We also discovered many who needed jobs. At first, we sent the jobless to area Agencies. This was very helpful. How could one person grow financial independence without a job? Next we developed a list of companies that would provide those jobs. We decided that we could contact the companies, discover if they needed workers and then prepare our clients by helping them with the creation of their resumes and cover letters. We connected them to the companies. We work with Workforce One, Project Hospitality, Amistad, the St. Clare’s Employment Group and schools including Jr. High School 7, St. John’s University, and Tottenville High School. We work with United Activities to help the students with Career Day by describing how we started our company and how they can Move Forward in their Financial Development.
Gradually, we were able to assist those interested in entrepreneurship. We assisted these clients in writing a Business Plan, completing a Projection Sheet which told the story of approximate income, expenses and profit their companies would produce. We then helped them to register their new company with the State and the Federal Government. Once they received their Employment Identification Numbers, they were ready to take required tests and obtain their insurance and licenses. These steps took several months, but it was worth it. We were building businesses which would then create jobs for others. We worked on starting a Construction Company, then, a Painting Company, a Welding Company and a Skin Care Spa. We assisted those interested in Food Handling jobs and others working toward selling their products. By using the internet, in particular, 360 Training.com, we were able to help them get certified in their areas of interest.
Another important meeting was for the purpose of partnering with Accion East, the number one Micro-Finance Company in the United States. And we started our own Micro-Finance Department which is working on an experimental basis. We give Emergency loans up to $800. Presently, we are working out the details of the work of this department. We hope to grow this service within the next year so that we can make it an official Department of Five Flags Company, Inc. Obtaining the loans are based on what we have in our company account.
Presently, we are partnering with the Arthur Ashe Foundation. Our Health Coalition Hub is led by Michelle Molina of El Centro. We are working with about 73 non-profits throughout the city to promote a focus on Preventative measures rather than Health Care. We are using partnering to get the job done. Through training sessions and working together with other companies, especially the eight other companies on Staten Island, we are heightening awareness of the importance of exercise, eating properly, reducing stress and supporting one another. Planning community events is used to engage the entire Staten Island Community.
And we also are a member of the Staten Island Not For Profit Organization which empowers us to join other companies in helping the people to grow in Financial Strength and Stability.