Support Circles: Rebuilding Community for Homeless Families

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“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”  ― Mother Teresa

While there are many “causes” of homelessness, everyone who experiences homelessness has experienced a loss of support networks in their lives for one reason or another. If a person’s homelessness is caused, in part, by the lack of community, then part of the solution is rebuilding community around that person. This is where Support Circles, our new collaborative mentoring program, can help.

Support Circles brings members from local congregations or community groups come alongside newly housed individuals and families to foster friendship, hope, stability and wholeness. The friendship that forms, however, is not a one-way street and Support Circle members have found their own sense of hope and wholeness in the process.

We launched this pilot program earlier this year in collaboration with  Open Table, Urban Housing Solutions, Metropolitan Homelessness Commission and Catholic Charities. “A few years ago we piloted Journey Together, a mentoring program for families, but we found we needed community and agency partners to really get this important model off the ground,” said Safe Haven CEO/ED Joyce Lavery. “Thanks to the vision and partnership of several other strong agencies, we now are building the collaborative foundation to wrap community and safety around formerly homeless individuals and families to protect and support their transition toward independence.”

The pilot of this program has been a success. A recent example of how the Support Circle can work is a recent collaborative effort of a support circle community. A Safe Haven family that had recently moved to their own housing had a family emergency. The support circle for this family rallied together to provide transportation, babysitting, meals and more. The members of the support circle provided help, support and a sense of community to lean upon in a difficult time. “In this instance, the support circle members who helped this family during their difficult situation were able to provide support and assistance that our staff would not have been able to offer, ” said Safe Haven Program Director Jennifer Reason. ” The group came together and really took care of things the way one’s neighbors/ support network does for one another.”

Members of Support Circles come from all backgrounds. They are patient, open-minded people who have a desire to provide consistency and to build relationship with others experiencing challenging situations. Members agree to a one-year commitment with about 4 to 10 hours spent each month on the Support Circle

Those involved in the Support Circles receive quality training to prepare them with learning opportunities offered throughout the year. Each group will also be connected to a Mentor. The Mentor has experience working in this field and can provide guidance and support for the Support Circle throughout the year.

We are ready to expand this program and need you! Join Support Circles and become part of the solution in rebuilding community around a homeless family.


Jennifer Reason, LBSW is the Program Director at Safe Haven Family Shelter.

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