2015 was a big year for me personally and for my work in the community. I turned 40. Lost a bunch of weight (still working every day to keep it off!). Survived my son’s terrible twos with only mild scarring. And spent a good part of the year working with my board of directors and our partners at Durham Interfaith Hospitality Network (DIHN) to merge Genesis Home and DIHN to create Families Moving Forward. Some things haven’t changed – we still provide temporary housing and case management support to families with children in the crisis of homelessness. Some things are going to be bigger and a lot better – more volunteers working with our families doing evening enrichment programming, aftercare case management support for up to 12 months to families leaving the shelter for permanent housing to prevent returns to homelessness, and an expansion of our shelter facility to become the largest family shelter in Durham.
Bigger isn’t always better, but the demand for our services and existing gaps in our system of care have led us to grow and evolve. One of the most exciting developments coming out of the merger is our renewed focus on addressing the needs of children in the shelter. We know that, to break the cycle of poverty in our community, we have to be deliberate about ensuring that our preschoolers are ready for kindergarten and our school-age children are successful in the classroom. To that end, we have been working with Durham’s Partnership for Children to implement new services for the children of our shelter guests. We have begun working with Care Coordination for Children (CC4C) at the Durham County Department of Social Services to ensure that all pre-kindergarteners receive a developmental screening that will help identify any adverse impacts related to homelessness and housing instability. Children with an identified need are connected to additional services and supports. While we continue to run the “study buddy” tutoring program four days per week, we are in the process of piloting new enrichment programming for our kids on a variety of topics including the arts, nutrition, exercise and social skills. This new programming wouldn’t be possible without the help of our great volunteers and designated funding from our supporters.
I’ve lost track of how many years I’ve walked/jogged/crawled the Great Human Race. Last year, for the first time, I jogged the 5k with my daughter Fiona who looked a lot better at the finish line than I did. What hasn’t changed is that we use proceeds from the race to underwrite the costs associated with our children’s needs and programming. I need your help to hit my fundraising goal of $1000. Whether you have a child or not, I hope that you’ll give $100, $50 or whatever you can to help address the needs of the most at-risk children in our community. We can’t end the cycle of poverty without addressing the needs of the children living at Families Moving Forward. I hope that you’ll read this and take a moment to make a gift in support of this very worthy cause. Please visit https://thevolunteercenter.givebig.org/Admin/c/TBR/a/familiesmovingforwardnc/p/RyanFehrman to make a gift to support my walk. Thank you for supporting our families and children.
Ryan J. Fehrman