Hey all, I wanted to share a post from a colleague of mine. Ben Robb is the Development Manager here at Springs Rescue Mission and is passionate about caring for needy families. Here is his post, I think you will like it!
“We have to let you go …”
What would you do if you and your spouse both lost your jobs today?
I suppose you’d feel stressed. You’d pray, perhaps. You’d certainly spruce up the resumes.
And then you’d call people. People you trust. People who care about you, want the best for you, would watch for new opportunities and mention your name.
You’d activate your network … And you’d probably be just fine.
Positive relationships are easy to take for granted–building them comes naturally to most of us. But imagine if all your friends were living below the poverty line. Imagine that many of them were looking for work, too. Imagine that they all lived in small apartments, that none of them had a spare bedroom.
Then what would you do if you and your spouse both lost your jobs?
Imagining life with a different set of relationships makes it easier to see why approximately 800 single mothers are currently living with their children in their cars in the Pikes Peak Region, doesn’t it?
You may have read Sarah’s story in our recent newsletter (if not, get caught up here)–until recently, she was one of those homeless single mothers. She’s also Springs Rescue Mission’s first participant in a new program we’re calling the Family Mentor Alliance. Here’s the concept in a nutshell:
What we’re doing to help
Homeless families have a short-term need: shelter. We’re currently in the process of developing a safe place specifically for families with children–more on this in another post.
Homeless families have two primary long term needs if they are to avoid ending up on the streets (or in their cars) again–education and relationships.
We seek to meet their long term needs through the Family Mentor Alliance by matching them in a mentoring relationship with members of a local congregation. Our goal for all of the families we work with is self-reliance.
When I met Sarah, she was several months into her time in the family Mentor Alliance and was preparing to move out of transitional housing and into her own place. Committing to a rent payment for the first time in years, she was understandably stressed about the move. But her mentors were helping her.
Honest help doesn’t always feel good. Sarah told me about arguing with these folks because the place she originally picked out was over budget. Together, they adjusted expectations and found something smaller, something sustainable. She told me about crying in her living room because her mentors were pushing her not to try to squeeze all of her stuff into the new space, which was smaller than her transitional housing, too.
These guys fought. They cried. They built real relationships–long term relationships. And Sarah has finally gained some positive momentum for herself and her children.
Why this matters to me
Sarah’s mentors are faithfully walking her through a wonderful spiritual curriculum and investing in her family in numerous ways. But it’s the everyday stuff that makes all the difference in the long run. It’s the positive relationships that matter.
I’ve worked for a few different non-profits over the last 11 years. Some of them have had a difficult time quantifying their long term outcomes. In my experience, the reason has been that the organization didn’t build long term relationships. They might talk about reaching an inordinate number of hurting people (reach is a media term), but they haven’t invested the months or years that it takes to walk people through the meaningful and sometimes mundane decisions that actually get lives back on track. And there’s nothing more important.
Why it should matter to you, too
You give money to non-profits every year. If you’re funding folks whose aim it is to get lives back on track, make sure they develop long term relationships with the people they’re helping, whether it’s through counseling, casework, or education. There’s no substitute for long term, positive relationships.
If you want to help a family, a neighbor, a coworker, or the guy panhandling on your street corner, develop the relationship. There’s no substitute for you.