by Sue Ferguson, FFH Lead Coordinator
Seven years ago this month, Foothills joined more than 30 local faith communities in an effort to house families experiencing homelessness in Fort Collins. Seven years of housing four families a night, 365 days a year, supporting close to 80% in their transition to permanent housing. Not a bad track record. Join us on Sunday, January 20th as we take a moment to pause and to celebrate this work together.
FACT: More than half of homeless households include children. Poudre School District lists over 1,034 students as homeless.
By offering temporary housing for families in particular, Faith Family Hospitality (FFH) serves a need in our community – and it takes many volunteers to make it happen. During these seven years over 250 folks have served as volunteers at Foothills – some for 1 or 2 times but many for over 25 times and some for up to 50 times! We are so grateful.
During each of those hosting weeks it takes about 40 volunteers and 2 dedicated coordinators to provide food and hospitality. The jobs are so simple – setting up beds and preparing guest rooms, cooking and serving a meal, being an evening host, spending the night as an overnight volunteer or doing the laundry. Taken together these simple actions ensure that a family doesn’t have to sleep in their car or under a bridge and gets the help it needs to find permanent housing.
Our work at Foothills is supported by the dedicate FFH staff. They operate a family day center 6 days at week and provide the in-depth case management that helps families move from homelessness to housing self sufficiency. Soon FFH will open Sherwood House which will provide bridge housing to families needing a little more help after they finish the overnight rotation.
Our coordinators put countless hours into preparing for each hosting week. They recruit all the volunteers, make sure doors are unlocked each night, purchase milk, bread and fresh fruit as needed and handle any unexpected events. Special thanks goes to current coordinators Danue Laborde, Marla Nelson, Dannielle North and Julie Pass. Karen Johnese and Kay Williams have also served as coordinators.
Volunteers like Rich Roberts who always makes his truck available to get the FFH trailer to the next church, Jody and Nate Donovan who are super experienced at setting up and taking down, and Mary Pat Aukema who did all the laundry for 3 years, have been practically indispensable and are so appreciated.
There is a loyal crew of overnight hosts (the hardest job to recruit for) who have to be mentioned – Libby James, Anne Haro Sipes, Diana Royce, Glen Pearson, Jim Smith, Carol & Jerry Okeson and Irma Crump. They sleep at the church and make sure breakfast is served in the morning!
There are just some folks who almost always sign up like Jennifer & John Dunkle, Susie Gordon, Trudy Herman, Cindy Mahoney, Lynn Young, Jane Everham, Lauren Prause, & Lois and Harry Goldman that deserve special mention.
Naming names always has a risk because so many people help each time. But each of these folks has volunteered a minimum of 15 times and most may more. A heart felt THANK YOU goes to each of them and every person who has volunteered for FFH these past 7 years we have made a difference.
Alongside our partner, Congregation Har Shalom, Foothills is next hosting families at the end of the month beginning Sunday night, January 20th. If you are interested in supporting this work during our next hosting – check out the variety of easy jobs that need to be filled here. If you are new please note it in the “notes” section of the Signup Genius and the coordinators will make sure you get some orientation and special help. Join us – it’s easy and most of us would say we get so much more than we give.