We believe with all our heart that everyone – including the homeless – deserves to live an abundant life; the life that God has planned for each and every one of us. And, with a 92% success rate, we’re pretty good at serving the homeless. But when the future of children is in our hands, “pretty good” isn’t good enough – we must be excellent.
We don’t just help families when they’re in crisis; we give them hope for the future. We have a passion to equip them to succeed because our goal is that once they’ve “graduated,” we don’t want to see them again – at least not as residents back in the shelter with their hand out; instead we offer them a hand up. We provide education and counseling; model appropriate behaviors and sound family practices; and offer spiritual guidance through our 8 to 12 week program.
Yes, we help families obtain housing, employment and skills for a productive life; but we also go a level deeper and equip them to work for the BEST. We call it our Abundant Life Program, and it’s basically a three step process:
When families first come to Freedom House, they obviously are in crisis mode. We provide for their basic needs to alleviate that trauma – food, clothing, shelter, medical assistance – in a clean, safe, loving family environment. We work hard to overcome an “institutional” feeling, as we find that hinders progress. What we’re really trying to model is a strong, vibrant, functioning family atmosphere. But we don’t let our families stay in crisis mode for long.
Once we assess the family, welcome them into Freedom House, situate them and go over the rules and expectations – typically after just a few days – we begin working with them to set goals and learn what they need to know to overcome the mistakes of the past that led to their current situation. We not only teach our families to be productive and fruitful, we enable them to work and provide beyond what someone else would give them.
What we’ve learned about the homeless after nearly two decades of hands-on experience is that they’re operating not just from a poverty of finances, but a poverty of values. You see, for a lot of our families, the things that you and I may take for granted – sitting down and having a meal with our family, learning how to parent, how to plan ahead and budget – these are things that have never been modeled for them.
While families are at Freedom House – typically 8 to 12 weeks (or sometimes more) – we offer mandatory parenting and financial planning classes to train our adults. We also offer job skill training, help with resume writing and interview skills. And we offer voluntary bible studies. So we don’t just meet physical needs, we also meet emotional and spiritual needs; and that whole package allows us to serve the entire family and bring about restoration, to help our families not just survive but to thrive!
Then, our families are taught to live an abundant life – to give back to the community that helped them in their time of need, to become givers rather than takers, to realize that they are a unique and valued creation with a purpose beyond merely surviving – a purpose that calls them to the abundant life God has made available for them. We match our graduate families with “Guardian Angels,” people who come alongside and help them find their place in the community – one that is more than merely self-sustaining, one that is vibrant and full of life. It is here where our graduating families come alive and seize a plan and purpose for generations to come. It is here where the cycle of poverty is broken.