by Jane Everham and Anne Fisher
The church’s seventh OVOF family will end participation in the mentoring portion of the OVOF program soon. This is always a bittersweet time for the Village – saying, “Good-bye.” This single mom and two teen girls are now securely housed in an apartment in Loveland. And they are in the process of qualifying for a Habitat for Humanity house. The mom has paid off many bills and has a plan for being out of debt very soon. She is eager to start a savings account, an act that is both symbolically and literally important to our OVOF families.
Between 2015 and December 2016, Foothills congregants formed seven Villages, and those Villages mentored seven adults and 24 children into stable and secure housing. Our Village members have supported a family for at least 6 months, serving as mentors, advocates, and sources of moral support – often their greatest need.
Many of our OVOF Village members at Foothills have been on sabbatical for a while now. Who is ready to accompany a new family? Are you new to the congregation? OVOF may be your path for engaging more deeply in our efforts to reach out with Courageous Love. There are families available and Foothills mentors have had an incredible impact on our community.
What we do: Each Village is made up of four to six FUC congregants who agree to accompany and support a homeless family for 6 months. The Village meets with the family once a month for a couple of hours each time. The Village Lead agrees to contact the family once a week. The church has raised funds (up to $1500) that can be applied for the Family’s initial down payment on rent – that alone can make a difference between remaining homeless or being able to move into stable housing. Then our job is to guide them onto a path of independence and self-sufficiency. Sometimes that includes sharing information about budgeting or accessing community resources, but more than anything, we often “just listen.” In my experience with the two families I have worked, both have been very grateful for all we do for them AND they always comment how much it means to them that we meet with them and give them the opportunity to problem solve – and vent.
Stay tuned for new OVOF updates: Homeless Gear is also in the process of expanding the OVOF program to include support for individuals and families that are coming out of Domestic Violent situations. They will be partnering with Crossroads Safe House and taking referrals directly out of their 8-week shelter program to make the transitioning process smoother and more robust. Once they exit the program at Crossroads, they will be paired with a Village consisting of two to three volunteers that would help them with finding housing and give them continued support throughout the following 6 months of the program.
If you are interested in signing up again or for the first time, contact Gretchen.