Home Work Biz Scoop A compassionate hand: Mesa foundation offers homeless assistance to achieve self-sufficiency

A compassionate hand: Mesa foundation offers homeless assistance to achieve self-sufficiency

Save The Family in Mesa. (Courtesy of Jim Hesterman photography)

While some are cozy in their beds with a stable home environment, there are so many more who are struggling to find food to feed their children and get into a shelter for the night. For those who find themselves homeless, there are many things to figure out—but by reaching out to Save The Family Foundation, they can ease their minds knowing the foundation has all the assistance they need to make it through their difficult time and achieve self-sufficiency; all the client needs is the will to take a positive step forward to improve their life.

Save The Family Foundation of Arizona offers more than resources for homeless families—they provide their compassionate staff, along with programs, services and support.

The Mesa-based nonprofit provides families with housing assistance through its programs, youth programs for children including school support and extracurricular activities and career services that assist with professional development such as creating career materials, interviewing and the job search process.

Save The Family also provides services to veterans including daily living, transportation and child care. They also provide domestic violence services; about 45 percent of the homeless families at Save The Family have been victimized within 12 months of entering their programs.

“When families come in to us, often times, they come very beaten down, and they’ve never had anyone that has really believed in them,” Jacki Taylor, CEO of Save The Family said. “I would say without exception, every one of the staff…there’s a deep sense of caring and belief in that person’s potential.”

This sense of belief is demonstrated through the classes taught, conversations with case managers and positive interactions that lead to steps forward for homeless families. One way this assistance is offered is through Missy’s Mall—a set of closets at Save the Family’s location in Mesa. The mall has different closets filled with a wide array of toys and baby, teens, kids and career closets filled with clothing and other materials. There is also a necessities closet, which has home good needs such as food, kitchen appliances and toiletries. Clients will work with their case managers to determine if any of the items in the closets are needed and they will be able to use and keep the items.

In addition to its youth programs and services, Save The Family also has housing programs that provide different levels of assistance.

If a family is interested in receiving housing assistance, they contact the Family Housing Hub, then they are screened and qualify for one of three housing options: permanent, rapid re-housing or transitional. After the appropriate type of housing is determined for the client, they are then referred to Save The Family to begin the housing intervention conversation and process.

Save The Family has a scattered site model and owns site units throughout the East Valley; families work with case managers to find permanent housing when appropriate.

“We’ve always subscribed to the principle that it behooves us to keep the families rooted in the community, so when they leave us, it’s not this abrupt end of services,” Taylor said.

They also have an affordable housing affiliate, called the ARM (Affordable Rental Movement) of Save The Family, which has about 300 units under ARM’s umbrella—Save The Family is the service provider to those families as well.

“On average about 90 percent of our families do attain affordable housing, so they’ve moved on to self-sufficiency, we take great pride in that,” Taylor said.

She said Save The Family strives to use a case management model, called critical time intervention, which is a 10-month model. This time period depends on the client’s situation—they may receive assistance for a longer period of time.

“We are on track to serve 650 families this year…next year we’re projecting about 750,” Taylor said. “We’ve been able to grow the number of families we’re able to intervene with. I attribute a lot of that capacity potential to the increase in rapid rehousing.” Rapid re-housing is a program where families usually live in the space for nine to 10 months.

In addition to the housing programs, Save The Family offer youth programs for children until age 18 including Little Kids Works for children until 6 years old and Youth Enrichment and Achievement (YEA) for children ages 7-18.

“One of the things I really love about this agency, is it’s focused on the children as well,” Taylor said.

The wide array of support services for children and adults help Save The Family aid in a holistic fashion.

“As important as it is to intervene with the adults, help them stabilize, get on their feet, secure employment and then identify affordable housing in which they can live,

it’s equally important that we address the trauma in the children that they’ve experienced through homelessness. Because we know homelessness is a very traumatic life event for kids and adults,” Taylor said.

“If we can intervene in their lives and help them increase their protective factors against gang violence, drugs, early school dropout, all those negative factors that potentially could lead them as adults into the situation of being homeless.”

One of the clients who has benefited from receiving assistance and utilizing Save The Family’s programs and services, is Mesa resident Suzanne F. The mother said she and her two sons have been involved with Save The Family since May 2016.

Asking that we not reveal her last name, Suzanne said the healing and boundary classes she has taken have been very helpful to her as a domestic violence survivor.

“They’ve given us clothes, beds to sleep in…they also are pushing me to put a resume together,” she said on how Save the Family has helped her and her sons.

“I honestly thought it would be very beneficial and healing for myself to find some means of being able to go out and tell my story,” Suzanne said of her career aspirations. She said she wants to talk about “domestic violence and let people know regardless of how many times you go back, (when it’s) the final straw, stick to your guns and stay strong and that’s what I’m doing.”

Save The Family also offers women support groups for domestic violence victims to encourage the healing process. There are classes offered for clients to encourage learning and progress including parenting, nutrition and wellness and budgeting.

When some families have achieved self-sufficiency, there are some who pay it forward by making a trip to Save The Family to drop off a gift or are available to sponsor a family during the holidays—a gesture that shows how much they’ve grown. Taylor said that is one of the most rewarding parts of Save The Family, seeing their clients come full-circle and see them succeed both in the immediate and distant future.

“What’s especially rewarding, is when years down the road, someone comes in and says, ‘Hi, remember me? I’m here to tell you we’re still doing okay,’” Taylor said. “It’s not good enough to have it succeed for just a year, but five, 10 years down the road and they’re coming back and saying ‘thank you.’”

If there are families who are apprehensive about reaching out to receive assistance, Taylor said don’t be afraid to take those steps forward.

“There are people here who care for you and believe in you and you can do it.”

To learn more about Save The Family, the programs and services offered, how to donate or volunteer, visit SavetheFamily.org.

– Mesa resident Alyssa Tufts is a freelance reporter for MyNewsMesa.

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