During the residents’ stay at Freedom House, they become part of a community; there’s support, encouragement and love. When they transition back into the community, they may be alone again. That’s a tough thing for anyone, so the Guardian Angel Program was started to connect residents with families in the community who will be a listening ear when issues arise, or just to have the reassurance that someone cares. Since a lot of our families don’t have active or supportive relatives in the area, having a model “healthy” Guardian Angel family has been very positive for our residents and a huge factor in helping ensure long-term success.
We have some guardian angels who will help families grocery shop and meal plan, if that’s a struggle for them; or we have some who will just come to their homes and sit with them; some come in and provide child care, once a week for an hour so a single Mom of four can go out and have her own quiet time.
Perhaps most importantly, our Guardian Angels serve as spiritual mentors, offering guidance and support until families get comfortable being on their own. Our residents who are involved with a church while they are in Freedom House may have difficulty maintaining that relationship when they graduate due to transportation issues. They still very much want to attend church, but since buses don’t run on Sundays, they’re “stuck”… If there’s no church within walking distance or that provides transportation, our families are not able to get to church. Aftercare has proven very effective for our residents, and we’ve seen significantly more success when they are in the program than when they’re not.
The need for Guardian Angels is great and growing, as people become more familiar with it. We provide all training, helping mentor families come to understand the “cycle” of poverty and homelessness to help them understand the behaviors of families living in poverty. Right now we have 20 Guardian Angels and 50 families who desire such relationships.