Formed in 2016 as a result of a merger between Genesis Home and Durham Interfaith Hospitality Network, Families Moving Forward (FMF) is a 90-day emergency shelter in Durham for families facing a housing crisis. In 2016, the federal government announced it would phase out support for transitional housing, spurring community organizations providing services to the homeless to come together to fight homelessness. Durham County’s Continuum of Care (CoC) system was established to triage homeless individuals and families to shelters and programs based on their needs and allows for resources and services to be bridged across organizations.
When families come to FMF for help, they have exhausted all alternative options through the CoC. The parents are often unemployed, have very little or no income and the family may be living out of their car. For many who come through the FMF shelter doors, hope and opportunity feels lost. FMF turns away no family, no matter the size and can house up to 21 families at a time. The staff of 11 full-time and eight part-time employees has created a number of programs available for the parents and their children during and after their stay at FMF that help them get back and stay on their feet again.
FMF’s Neighbors Experiencing Success Together services provide programs for parents, currently living in the shelter, about financial literacy, gaining employment, socio-economic issues, health and nutrition, being a responsible renter and a parenting series. Children’s programming is aimed at preventing homelessness as they grow into an adult. Building Relationships to Anchor Our Transitions (Branch OUT) services allow FMF to continue the programming offered to residents after they find housing and move out.
Tasha Melvin, Director of Partnerships and Programs, calls the partnership with DUSON one of the strongest they have. DUSON ABSN students facilitate healthy living and awareness programs on a weekly basis. Alison Edie, DNP, APRN, FNP-BC, assistant professor DUSON, sits on the FMF Board of Directors and Michelle Hartman, DNP, RN, NP, assistant professor and director for the ABSN program at DUSON, on the programming committee to advise the agency. Irene Felsman, DNP, MPH, RN, C-GH, assistant professor at DUSON and Donna Biederman, DrPH, MN, RN, associate professor at DUSON, are involved faculty. Retired DUSON faculty, Mary Vinson and Dorothy Powell, support and guide healthy programming for FMF.
In February 2018, DUSON Community Health Improvement Partnership Program (D-CHIPP) facilitated a Design Thinking workshop with FMF leadership. Design Thinking develops creative ways to solve complex problems. The workshop resulted in writing a grant to examine FMF program effectiveness. Despite the grant not being funded, the collaboration between FMF and D-CHIPP had only begun. D-CHIPP recently awarded FMF a small grant that will support CPR/First Aid training for parents at the shelter. The first training class filled up within 10 minutes of being announced! The CPR training is a first step for developing a stackable credentials program for FMF residents. Stackable credentials is a concept that allows individuals looking to improve job skills and experience to incrementally gain certificates in a related field. For example, individuals may start by getting a CPR certification, move to certification as a Community Health Worker, and move further on to become a Certified Nursing Assistant. FMF and D-CHIPP regularly meet in order to develop the stackable credentials concept for residents of FMF.
As one of D-CHIPP’s key partners, we are thrilled to shine a spotlight on Families Moving Forward and all the hard work they do each day for homeless families in Durham.