“It’s not work if you’re living through your passion.” Kathy Sublett’s passion is dedicating herself to helping people who want to help themselves. Kathy’s organization “Let’s Erase The Stigma” is committed to navigating individuals through the shame attached to a stigma such as criminal history, chemical dependency, bad credit, and/or a negative medical diagnosis. With services tailored to provide resources to educate, empower, and encourage personal growth, the goal is to motivate individuals to look beyond their mistakes. The organization represents the belief that each day is an opportunity to learn and grow.
Through Kathy’s life experiences, she learned first-hand how stigmas effect every area of one’s life. The effects of stigma create a judgmental environment filled with lack of housing, scarce employment opportunities, and a general unwillingness to help. When she reached out for help, Kathy received support from those who saw her efforts. It was through this authentic experience that she learned her biggest lesson – people will help you if you help yourself.
These experiences motivated Kathy to start her own organization, “Let’s Erase The Stigma”. The belief of this organization is “if you make a mistake, fix it and move on”. The services and resources of the organization are intended to help individuals get a chance at life by addressing and combating the shame attached to their stigmas. The organization is designed to support people living in marginalized areas within the community by helping them gain access to resources. The organization provides resources to assist with expungement, “Budget Your Way to Good Credit” classes, and Cultural Humility classes. Let’s Erase The Stigma is designed as a landing place of hope. Individuals don’t deserve to be judged for their traumas, learning lessons, or mistakes, but they do deserve resources.
Since the organization began in February of 2021, there have been a number of success stories. These stories range from a 69-year-old woman, to a young lady with children, to a young man trying to find his feet, to a man who had to learn to be better than his worst mistakes, to a guy with a size-17 shoe. When she picked this man up, she noticed he did not have any shoes. When the prison did their intake process, they got rid of his shoes. This was going to create more problems than just the basic need. Without shoes, this man would be unable to work. There was just one problem – this man wore a size-17 shoe. Kathy called all the resources she could think of until an organization was willing to donate a size-17 steel-toed boot for the man. This meant that he would be able to safely work in a factory in order to sustain himself.
When asked about the Budget Classes, the attendees had uplifting remarks. A 69-year-old woman stated, “I haven’t experienced this level of satisfaction that I currently do from changing how I pay my bills. I now get joy from paying (bills) immediately before I spend any of my paycheck. I have become much more cautious about planning and saving money. Thank you, Kathy, for coming along at the right time for me. You have greatly helped me organize how I will spend and save money.” A 32-year-old woman stated, “I am grateful for a chance to have participated in this class! It has honestly opened my eyes so much to my spending habits, and budgeting mishaps. I have high hopes of purchasing my first home in the future, and I knew that my credit score would prevent me from doing that. This class has given me tolls, so I am able to make my dream a reality. I would recommend this class for anyone who wants to get on the right track to having great credit!”
The funding for Let’s Erase The Stigma is in the fiscal agent stage. Kathy applied for Winona Community Foundation’s Cycle 1 Mission-Critical Community Grant and received a three-thousand-dollar grant for startup costs. This allowed Kathy to purchase a computer and supplies needed. Kathy’s organization is in need of funding to continue the programs. The most urgent needs for the organization are housing resources, funding, volunteer attorneys, and resources for specific programs offered by the organization.
In order for Kathy to get what she needs from the Winona Community; she shouldn’t have to go outside the Winona Community. Let’s help Kathy obtain resources within the community she’s trying to support, and let’s help the individuals who are ready to help themselves.
If you’d like to learn more about Let’s Erase The Stigma, or if you’re interested in becoming a financial donor and/or sponsor for a specific program, please visit the organization’s Facebook page or contact Kathy directly. If you’re interested in donating to this organization, visit the donation button on this page to get started. Please note: if you make a donation, please add in the “optional note” section “Let’s Erase The Stigma”.
We have the power to help erase the stigma by making Winona community an inclusive and resourceful space.