Volunteer leaders and Host Coordinators came together on June 12 to celebrate the successes and reflect on the work ahead for Families Moving Forward at the Annual Host Coordinators Dinner at Colonial Church in Edina. “We’re going to spend our time together reflecting on why we do this work, celebrating the lives that have changed as a result of the hospitality and support we provide, and looking forward to what is next in our journey to ensure all people have a home,” said Charlie Flynn, a Beacon board member.
Associate Director of Shelter Operations Sakinah Mujahid reported on the work accomplished. The past year has seen a growing use of Families Moving Forward’s shelter and services. A total of 51 families were served in the past year, with two thirds of these families moving into stable housing. Sakinah also noted that families are staying longer than they used to: “Families are staying longer because there are not enough affordable homes for big families,” she said.
Families Moving Forward wouldn’t be able to do the work it did if not for the many volunteers in congregations throughout the Twin Cities. Over 6,000 people volunteered with Families Moving Forward over the last year, assisting families at a very difficult time in their lives.
In her speech to the gathering, Beacon’s Executive Director Lee Blons continued the words of thanks and also shared what is needed to make Families Moving Forward successful. First and foremost is the need for additional hosting congregations in 2019.
“I need to share one of the greatest challenges that we face for calendar year 2019,” Blons began. “We have just completed the scheduling for congregations for hosting weeks. We have 30 weeks without a hosting congregation! 30 weeks is over seven months of the year. It is split between 13 weeks in Southwest and 17 weeks in Hennepin.”
Blons added that Families Moving Forward is in discussions with several congregations in the Collaborative about hosting, but even then there are still weeks that need to be filled. She asked those present if their congregations could pick up the slack.
“Could you do the same number as you are doing this year?” she said. “If you are only doing 1 or 2, could you add a week? The other possibility for those in Hennepin is can you take all 8 families for your week?”
Blons and Associate Director for Congregational Organizing Deb Rodgers concluded the dinner by connecting the work of Families Moving Forward with the wider work of Beacon to ensure everyone has a place to call home.
Rodgers noted the work of Families Moving Forward has always been a cooperative endeavor, allowing congregations to share the work of sheltering 50 families a year. This collaboration makes what would be impossible for one congregation manageable when congregations come together.
She continued by saying that Beacon also applies this model when it comes to building homes and influencing housing policy. “We are a collaborative that includes 80 congregations committed to providing shelter, building affordable and supportive housing, as well as changing the face of homelessness in Minnesota by helping others become more knowledgeable about the root causes of homelessness and speaking out to our public officials about policy changes that will bring about funding for housing and shelter as well as changes in the way poverty and racism are perceived at every level of our community,” she said.
Blons concluded the event by telling the attendees that while it is important to celebrate the successes, they are also challenged to think how their representative congregations could contribute to the Collaborative. “We know that many hands make light work and right now we are seeking more hands to help our vision that ‘all people have a home’ become a reality,” she said.
If your collaborative congregation is interested in hosting again during 2019, please contact Sakinah Majahid. If your congregation would like to host for the first time or be more involved in Beacon’s wider vision that all people have a home, please contact Deb Rodgers.