Grace Village Support Network Team (VSN) Grace’s Village Support Network (VSN) team assists a family over a six month period during their transition from shelter to housing. The team supports a family with follow-through on its sustainability plan, provides a small family assistance fund to invest in their success and helps integrate the family into their new community.

VSN is part of the New City Initiative that recognizes “every family needs a village of support, especially families that have experienced homelessness. For these families, a network of caring and supportive people can make all the difference when it comes to stability, self-sufficiency and educational success. It can even reduce the incidence of homelessness for future generations.” 

Grace volunteers participating in this program have found that it deepens our understanding of homelessness and strengthens our relationship with individuals who have experienced homelessness.

The Grace VSN team has worked with two families to set up action plans, develop budgets, and settle into their new homes and communities. We have used the family assistance fund to provide martial arts classes for two children, museum and zoo experiences and emergency supplies. We have brought potluck for housewarming parties, helped with resumes, encouragement and interview transportation. The entire Grace community has also generously helped our families with providing a washer and dryer, furnishings and other household necessities.

VSN has sponsored 42 families from 2011 to 2014, with over 90% of these families still housed at the end of their first year and 70% had at least one parent who was employed or in school.

Grace also participates in the N/NE Interfaith Alliance, which is working with New City Initiative/VSN to establish new VSN teams as part of the NIA’s mission to help reduce poverty and increase stability.

For additional information regarding the Grace VSN Team, feel free to contact Grace VSN team members Julie Romberg, Jan Rinehart, Deb Pratt, Anne North, Sally Fraser.

The following article appeared in the VSN Newsletter:

Success Story: Roseanna and Caleb

Roseanna came to the Village Support Network with a lot of things going for her: a job as a dog trainer with a local pet store, a wonderful 5 year old son named Caleb, a savings account and a car. When asked why she wanted to be part of the program, Roseanna explains that she was “so scared” to live on her own for the first time, and that an “awesome support network” was the key to helping her family become “stable, comfortable and safe.” She and her team from Grace Memorial Episcopal Church have worked together on the things that matter to her: getting an Individual Development Account (a matched savings account) started, making her house a home, and getting her son settled into school.

Over a year after moving out of shelter, Roseanna and Caleb are still stable in housing.