Our Community Outreach mission statement says that we support families living on the edge of homelessness.  After careful consideration, Family PASS is being added to the small group of local non-profits we support to help meet this aspect of our mission. The focus of their work is well captured in the name of their organization, Family Preservation and Strengthening Services (Family PASS).  After nine years of providing rental assistance on a long-term basis, their Board recognized that the funding for long term rent would be better used by reallocating it to education and focus on a client’s ability to earn a living wage.  They combine one-time housing or other debt assistance that threatens family stability and connects them with intensive supportive services to assist them in creating a path toward a stable future.  They work only with low-income and extremely low-income sheltered, working families who truly want to become self-sufficient and are willing to put in the hard work it takes to achieve that goal.  Because they take no federal funding, they are able to work with families much longer than other programs. Family PASS says it is sometimes as little as six months or as much as three years before the families are solidly self-sufficient.  

Some clients have become hairdressers, commercial drivers, achieved certifications in health care management, human resources management, dental assistants, attained associates and bachelor degrees. Some have also returned to Family PASS to say thank you, to donate cars to new clients, and to provide dental care for current clients. Some have purchased homes.  

The first engagement with this organization was through a new initiative of their Board Chair, Nancy Socher. Nancy started a zoom meeting of local non-profits she calls Vienna Family Services Coalition with the intent of finding ways in which Vienna area organizations can work together. Co-team leaders June and Jane were invited to attend those meetings. Both were impressed with Nancy’s leadership and wanted to learn more about their organization.  

Some research was done regarding their organization; Family PASS works with about 25 families each year and all of the families with whom they have worked have remained housed. They also have been able to maintain a stable case worker staff with some having been with them as many as eight years. This is very unusual in a high-turnover pressure-filled line of work. Their financial status even passed Jeanine Montgomery’s careful scrutiny. The more we learned, the more we were impressed and felt there should be a way to partner with them.

The dots soon connected when we realized they might be able to help support our Z family from Afghanistan. They have connected with the family and have so far provided one month’s rent and a voucher to a clothes closet, which was used to obtain clothing for several family members. They now work directly with the family.

This connection grew into our offering to provide financial assistance for specific client needs as our funding allows. The first opportunity came in the form of a badly-abused single mother of three who needs extensive dental work due to loss of several teeth at the hands of her abusive husband. She and her children spent several months in a homeless shelter before obtaining housing. Family PASS is working with her to help her process the emotions of the trauma and to start to rebuild her life. The dental work includes bridges and crowns, which she cannot afford and Medicaid does not cover. The original estimate was over $5,000, but the dental provider offered a discount, given the situation, so the total cost will be $3,636.50. It is clear that having this dental work done will go a long way toward restoring her confidence. We were pleased to be able to fund the entire amount of her dental work. 

We look forward to sharing with you more about this organization as our relationship strengthens over the coming months. Thank you for your support of Emmanuel’s operating budget which makes work like this possible.  

– Jane Holtorf & June Fraim, Co-Chairs, Community Outreach Team