Safe Families for Children aims to offer families hope

Families in need of safe and affordable housing is a growing concern nationally, locally, and for the St. Joe Foundation. Over the years, St. Joe has supported families, parents, and pregnant women in need of temporary or emergency shelter through grants to organizations such as A Mother’s Hope, St. Joseph Missions, Redemption House, Hope Alive, New Mercies Ministries, and Safe Families. This spring, the St. Joe Foundation awarded Safe Families a $10,000 grant to support their work, as well as their new direction and leadership transition.

Josh Frey is the new Fort Wayne Coordinator for Safe Families, an organization that hosts vulnerable children and supports families in need via a volunteer network with a mission of keeping children safe and families intact. Originally working in campus ministry at Huntington University, Frey was drawn to his new position out of passion and purpose. “As I was spending time in prayer and scripture, I just kept seeing different verses and different callings to serve those less fortunate and really be generous and hospitable in the community but wasn’t sure how to make that practical in my life,” shares Frey. “Then this opportunity at Safe Families came up and it just seemed like a really natural step to take.”

The Fort Wayne chapter was established about six years ago, but the COVID-19 pandemic and philosophical differences within the local organization created challenges that eventually resulted in its former director establishing her own organization, New Mercies Ministries, while Safe Families set out to regroup and rebuild. Now with six families currently approved to volunteer, Safe Families has been able to provide hostings and other services for four families. The goal is to have 20 volunteers by the end of 2022. Housing is the most common reason people come to Safe Families, and hostings are still the primary way Safe Families will serve the community. However, Frey is also excited to offer help outside of their traditional host model by being adaptable and creative. “We want to make sure Safe Families is getting families what they actually need, not what we think they might need.”

In addition to housing, people are also turning to the organization for hope. “It breaks my heart a little bit every time I’m talking to somebody who is calling me, a stranger with an organization they probably just heard of that day, to take care of the most important thing in their life—their kid—because they don’t have anyone they trust more than a random stranger whose number they got somewhere,” says Frey. “If we’re able to offer hope and help to people who are in such difficult situations, that’s really what I think motivates a lot of our volunteers and definitely what motivates me. That’s why I think this work is important.”