Sheltering In Place at Families Moving Forward
Written by Dylan Novacek, Content Specialist
“The families we’re seeing here are so resilient,” exclaimed Families Moving Forward Program Manager Rebekah Schneider. “Although the way we work has had to change, we’re still celebrating successes and working together to find stable housing for families living in our shelter program.”
It’s difficult to shelter in place without a shelter. As COVID-19 impacts everyone, we are all in this together. This sentiment holds true for staff at Beacon’s shelter program, Families Moving Forward. As FMF staff adapts to the ever-changing landscape, they’re moving past new hurdles to support each other.
“We have to be more creative and flexible,” noted Case Manager Megan Joshi. “Everything from touring new homes, getting documents from the DMV, and making essential calls has been made more challenging due to social distancing.”
“I keep encouraging my families to keep their heads up high,” Case Manager Vang Yang added. “We are making sure we work a few steps ahead to combat new wait times, keep six feet apart, and most importantly check in on each other’s wellbeing.”
Among the biggest changes FMF has seen has been increased cleaning and the shift from hosting families in congregations to local hotels. These changes cost about an additional $15,000 a week to keep our families, staff, and volunteers safe and healthy. Shelter staff has taken their roles and the health of their community very seriously.
“Before joining the FMF team, I always believed I was adaptable,” Case Manager Nicole Harvey noted. “This situation has made me walk the walk with that. I’ve witnessed my fellow staff take everything so seriously for our families. From cleaning everything, to staying six feet apart. We’re in it now.”
With all the safety measures in place, shelter staff is bending and adapting to serve our shelter guests. Against it all, families have stayed strong.
“If they’re stressed then I don’t see it,” Nicole observed, seeing the hard work and resiliency in her families. “Our work has become more intimate despite being six feet apart. Our families know more than ever that we have each other’s back.”
Beacon supports families and helps give them a sense of stability during unstable times.
“Whether that’s taking a break and doing an Easter Egg hunt for the kids around the program center, or taking a day to celebrate each other’s success…we’re in this together,” noted Megan.
“I feel so committed to this work,” she said with confidence. “As a case manager, I am here for the families no matter what.”
This sense of passion and teamwork is just one motivating factor for the FMF staff. The largest factor would have to be celebrating the success of families who move onto the next steps.
“Despite the challenges, one of my families just found their new home,” Nicole shared, smiling ear to ear. “I felt like their cheerleader. This mother of three was able to self-identify her roadblocks, work on herself, and find a home for her girls.”
As they move onto the final steps in their journey, it’s so important to remember that there are many just like them who are struggling to find footing to even take the first step towards stability.
“We all benefit when our neighbors have stable homes,” Nicole insisted. “If everyone has that sense of safety and comfort, then we are all safe and comfortable. It’s our duty to support each other.”
For Nicole and her fellow case managers, one thing that has inspired them in this work has been seeing the care the families in shelter have for each other.
“They are all being so kind to each other and wearing face masks,” Vang shared. “It’s so important that we take care of each other and our community.”
“In these hard times, it’s important to be kind to each other,” Megan added.
Throughout this health crisis, FMF staff has reasserted their values in the importance of teamwork, supporting each other, and most importantly – the importance of home.
“Home is a place to lay down my burdens, and have a sense of security,” Nicole shared, pausing to consider what it would be like to not have her home. “Home is everything.”
Shelter for these families is essential. At Beacon, we aim to address the underlying problems of why there isn’t enough supportive housing for families without these resources. As we combat COVID-19 together, Beacon moves forward to launch 150 new supportive homes for families, each with a need for $750,000 in launch funding from the community.