One Village One Family

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Written by Ben Story, FFH Staff

Faith Family Hospitality is just one of the programs in our communities helping to tackle the challenges faced by families experiencing homelessness. We’ve already mentioned the work of The Matthews House HOST Program, providing a temporary home for children, youth, and families who are in a crisis situation, through volunteer HOST families. The strength of this program is that it helps those in need to establish healthy relationships with people in the community.

A program with a similar aim is being relaunched by Homeless Gear, under the leadership of its founder Ken John and his wife Nancy. The One Village One Family (OVOF) program brings together multiple community stakeholders–churches, civic groups, nonprofits and business and community leaders–to empower homeless families to regain stability, secure housing and achieve self-sufficiency.

Homeless Gear is the lead agency, but the OVOF program is also a collaborative effort between Homeless Gear and Homeward 2020, Faith Family Hospitality, The Family Center/La Familia and the Matthews House. Homeless Gear recruits partner organizations: churches, civic groups, companies… any group of compassionate adults that wants to participate, really! Those organizations form mentor teams of 4-to-6 people, and certified trainers walk the mentor teams through a formal training.

Partner agencies pre-screen and refer homeless families to Homeless Gear, and Homeless Gear oversees a more in-depth application process. Once in the program, each family is matched with a trained mentor team; teams raise money to help their families get into housing (first month’s rent, security deposit, etc.) and then provide about six months of ongoing, structured mentoring.

The beauty of this program is that it relies primarily on helping families build relational capital within our community and hopefully establish friendships that will go beyond the scope and length of the program, enabling them to build a healthy foundation for their future.