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Here’s how — and why — our family program works at FamilyForward

When people ask me, “How, exactly, does FamilyForward empower people?” I respond, “We show up for them.”


FamilyForward Program Manager Sarah Harte
FamilyForward Program Manager Sarah Harte

MENTOR. EMPOWER. THRIVE. Our tagline conveys the key elements of our family program. But you may be wondering how — and why — our family program works. It all starts with mentoring. Mentoring sets FamilyForward apart from other organizations. What do volunteer mentors actually do? Working in pairs, FamilyForward mentors meet with the family in their home, each week, for two years. Our volunteer mentors place a strong emphasis on financial literacy, household budgeting and career planning.


But before they talk about dollars and cents or a weekly to-do list, the mentors’ first, and most profound, responsibility is to show up. FamilyForward is successful because we show up.


FamilyForward is successful because we show up.

How our family program works

The physical act of showing up for someone shows that you believe in them. By consistently showing up, mentors send the message, “I believe in you. You are not a lost cause. You are worth my time.”


Many FamilyForward participants enter our program at a dark time in their lives, when they feel lost or hopeless. Maybe it was a precipitating event that caused someone’s downward financial spiral — an accident, a death, an illness, a chronic diagnosis, a broken relationship. For other participants, a lifetime of poverty or instability has stood in the way of developing enough self-esteem to “get ahead” in life.


Why our family program works

Having two caring volunteers consistently come to the family’s home allows the parent to see some light at the end of the tunnel. Many participants have no other stable, reliable, baggage-free adults in their life.


Weekly mentor meetings result in to-do lists. As a parent gradually chips away at their to-do lists, they gain a sense of accomplishment. Knowing that their mentors will show up again the following week keeps them accountable for making progress on those goals. Slowly, over time, with encouragement from their mentors, this progress results in the participant feeling empowered.


So, when people ask me, “How, exactly, does FamilyForward empower people?” I respond, “We show up for them.” And that’s what helps families thrive.

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