05/14/2012 09:20 am ET Updated May 14, 2012

Homelessness: Open Table, Arizona Nonprofit, Gets People Off Of Streets With Help Of Focus Groups

Instead of just handing out a meal and a bed for the night, one advocacy group is also doling out concrete advice to help Arizona’s homeless population.

The Open Table is empowering those who live on the streets of Phoenix by pairing them with a group of volunteers who have life-skills tips to share. The participants share their expertise in areas including education, finance and healthcare, and meet once a week for eight months to a year, reports.

Open Table founder, Jon Katov, believes humanizing homelessness is what’s been missing from past efforts.

"This is the 44th year of the poverty rate not changing a bit except going up... we are missing so much of the human potential," Katov told the news source.

That's the kind of potential the group found in Lavette Hutchinson, a mother of three who was homeless on and off for five years. During her eight months with the nonprofit, Hutchinson got a job, visited the doctor and dentist, and found affordable housing, reports.

She admits there are more obstacles, but she is finally feeling hopeful.

“I've just been going around in circles and in circles. And it has to end," Hutchinson said of her struggles with homelessness. "It’s gonna end here with me."

To learn more about the Open Table, click here.