2017 was a year of immense growth for Families Together. Like every year before we remain dedicated to move families from homelessness to home. Since 2010 there has been a 56% increase in of children experiencing homelessness. In response to this growing population Families Together has expanded our staff and board of directors, our community of donors, volunteers, partners, faith groups and landlords which has lead to us reaching more children than any time in our recent history.
In 2017 we added to our staff by hiring our firs-ever Housing Navigator Kevin Atkins. As the Housing Navigator Kevin works closely with Families Together Mentor Advocates in identifying appropriate housing opportunities for families enrolled in the program as part of their overall progress toward stability and independence. An integral part of the Kevin’s responsibilities is to build relationships with landlords and maintain and grow the base of landlords that partner with FT and provide housing opportunities to low-income/high barrier families. Kevin had a big impact in 2017 and we can't wait to see what 2018 holds.
John Niffenegger, Ann Thomas and MaryJane Selgrade who combined have provided more than 15 years of service on the Families Together Board of Directors ended their terms. Although we are sad to see them leave we are ecstatic to have Lauren Brown, Anne Ehlers, and Ron Williams to join the Families Together board of directors and continue in our mission of housing homeless children.
With so much growth we would be remiss if we didn't mention our wonderful allies who helped us reach new heights as an organization. We want to say "Thank You" to the 614 volunteers who volunteered 2,465 hours in 2017. Those hours were used to in a variety of ways to improve the lives of others. They helped provide much needed school supplies to students at our Backpack drive. They helped recognize clients who completed our program by producing a family carnival and graduation onsite. Our volunteers help improve the lives of people who live onsite by completing many projects like clearing debris for a play space for kids, building benches/cubbies for each unit, and put together beds for every unit in our apartments. We are truly grateful that we had such great allies to enhance the lives of others.
We ended 2017 on high note as we getting some notoriety for our mission. Executive Director Lisa Rowe spent a lot of time educating the community in various ways. She wrote an Op-ed piece for the News & Observer explaining how the lack of affordable housing is leading to the spike in homelessness. She was featured in a story about Giving Tuesday by Linnie Supall of Spectrum News.
Lisa also made another appearance in video produced by GlaxoSmithKline for us being awarded the GSKImpact Award for building a healthier community. We are so honored to be recognized for the hard work that we put into making our community better. To top it off our video won additional funds from GSK for winning the employee vote! Thank you to GSK for acknowledging our work, and to all of our allies because we couldn't achieve any of this without you!
2017 was a huge year for Families Together and we will continue to strive and reach higher heights in 2018!