Faith Family Hospitality (“FFH”) was conceptualized over the period of a year, beginning in 2011, by thirteen Fort Collins faith communities working together with Angel House Loveland. They were eager to address a pressing need for emergency shelter in Larimer County for families experiencing homelessness.
The Catholic Charities Mission offered four rooms for families and was consistently full. The Fort Collins Rescue Mission did not serve people under 18. By January 2012, FFH had grown to seventeen member congregations and had developed its own operating model loosely based on House of Neighborly Service’s national shelter model. FFH welcomed its first guest family for overnight shelter on Jan. 31, 2012.
Our initial focus was on providing congregationally-based, volunteer-directed overnight shelter, meals, and non-faith-based hospitality from 5pm to 7am each night. It provided welcome relief to our guest parents and children. However, it soon became apparent that to provide lasting community impact, our mission needed to be broadened to day services to help our sheltered families become self-sufficient. The provision of case management services and a day-time center from which families could manage their affairs was thus added to our program mix. This expanded mission was significantly more extensive in terms of staffing, facilities, and services, and the next few years were focused on developing the operational and financial infrastructure to provide these services. FFH continues to expand its services along the continuum of care to most effectively and efficiently support our adult and child guests to sustainable self-sufficiency. We are currently in the planning process for establishing transitional housing to support our sheltered guest families who need more time and support, and to serve more families on our Overnight Shelter waitlist.
FFH’s membership has grown to include over 30 congregations in Fort Collins, of various faiths and denominations. The United Way of Larimer County served as our fiscal agent and supporter since our inception. In March 2015, we received our 501(c)3 nonprofit status with the Internal Revenue Service. In our 2015-16 fiscal year, we have managed all financials ourselves with the support of our capable bookkeeper and Board Treasurer. We are becoming increasingly independent of United Way’s administration, relying at this time on their administration of staff and benefits.
For more detail regarding FFH’s history and key dates, explore the tabs in the timeline below.
- Jan 2015: FFH received its first major grant, $10,000 from Bohemian Foundation
- Mar 2015: FFH received its IRS 501c3 charitable determination letter.
- Nov 2014: The shower and laundry renovations were completed, the capital campaign exceeded its goals and raised $17,000, and the new FFH Center was dedicated.
- Dec 2014: By the end of 2014, 6 additional support congregations joined FFH bringing its membership to 27 congregations.
- The need for increased family advocacy work was identified, and Family Advocate
- Sue Peterson was increased to 20 hours/week.
- A new trailer, with FFH logo, was generously donated to move beds and guest belongings between host congregation sites each week.
- Due to the success of the winter break, a spring break day center was provided.
- The Liaison Team negotiated a lease agreement with FCMF for an ongoing day center, to be open 4 days per week. Sue P was provided an office. FFH hired a full-time Americorps Member, Ben Story, to support the Day Center operations.
- FFH became a Colorado nonprofit corporation and obtained its tax identification number from the IRS. FFH formalized its structure with a Board of Directors and membership consisting of participating FFH faith communities.
- Sue Peterson was named Program Director. Through FFH’s fiscal agent relationship, United Way became her employer and provided standard health and other benefits.
- FFH was approved as a United Way Impact Partner.
- The FFH Board of Directors negotiated a 3-year lease with FCMF to maintain its FFH Center 4 days per week, with an option for further days if needed. We also launched a Capital Campaign for funds to add showers and laundry to the Day Center.
- By the end of 2013, two host and one support congregation had joined FFH, bringing FFH membership to 21 congregations.
- Jan: FFH hosted its first four families in its overnight shelter program.
- Apr: FFH hired its first employee in the position of Family Advocate. Sue Peterson, a licensed social worker, who was already providing social work services on a volunteer basis, was hired for 10 hours per week.
- Dec: FFH opened a temporary day center during Poudre School District’s Winter break at 300 East Oak Street in central Fort Collins, in partnership with Fort Collins Mennonite Fellowship (“FCMF”). This center gave families with children a safe, climate-controlled place to rest, eat, play, and get work done during the school vacation period. It was staffed completely by volunteers trained by FFH’s Family Advocate.
- Dec: By the end of 2012, one additional congregation had joined FFH as a host, bringing FFH membership to 18 congregations.
- Dec: As progress slowed in the affiliation discussions, a volunteer “liaison team” was established by the Fort Collins consortium of 13 local faith communities to determine how best to move forward. The group decided not to affiliate with IHN for financial and other reasons. The Liaison Team created a program named Faith Family Hospitality (“FFH”), loosely modeled after the IHN emergency shelter and family advocate model. Intake and caseworker services were provided by the Murphy Center. FFH was loosely organized under the umbrella of IFC, and United Way of Larimer County agreed to be its fiscal agent and provide other guidance.
- Dec: By end of 2011, 17 congregations had joined FFH, 10 of which acted as host congregations for the overnight shelter program.
Interfaith Council (IFC) and other Fort Collins individuals and organizations initiated conversations to address the growing needs of local homeless families, due to a shortage of other established emergency housing. These led to discussions with Angel House, a Loveland charity, which was affiliated with Interfaith Hospitality Network. These organizations had an existing model and network of providing emergency shelter, meals, and day support to families in need. Initially, the possibility of opening a Fort Collins affiliate was evaluated.