The entry point for Hope Harbor is the 40W Assistance and Referral Center or any local non-profit. Candidates are initially screened by a trained professional and a small selection of candidates are presented to Hope Harbor. The selection process is based on the perceived needs of the candidates and our ability to meet those perceived needs, along with an initial assessment of the motivation of the candidates to fulfill the expectations of Hope Harbor’s approach.
After one or more candidates are selected for the program, an invitation is issued for the selected candidates to meet individually with the Family Outreach Worker (FOW). The FOW is a paid, experienced, masters level licensed social worker, and serves as the primary point of contact between Hope Harbor and the participant. At that time the program is explained to the candidate and he/she is given the opportunity to formally accept our invitation to engage in a mutual discernment process. If the candidate agrees to proceed, the Family Outreach Worker spends an appropriate amount of time with the participant learning about their strengths and challenges and long and short-term goals. During this time we get to know one another and lay the foundation for trust to be established. A plan is developed to meet mutually defined goals and other family members are brought into the process as needed and appropriate. Once the goals have been established, the Hope Harbor board and staff assess the resources needed to ensure their ability to meet the challenge. The participant is asked to engage in a formal covenant with Hope Harbor, committing to a mutual relationship with measurable accountability for both the participant and Hope Harbor.
Once a partner has covenanted with the program, all resources are employed and a targeted corps of trained family volunteers are assigned to work with the FOW in support of this established plan. Once both parties have entered into the covenant, we do whatever it takes to assist the partner in meeting the goals. The FOW has developed a list of referrals to local service providers for more specialized needs, but we intend to use the family volunteers as much as possible. There are two types of family volunteers-a lead volunteer and a task volunteer. The family may be assigned one lead volunteer who will work closely with them or there may be many volunteers working with family members carrying out specific tasks. Family volunteers meet monthly with the FOW to receive training, provide feedback on their engagements, and provide an open forum for discussion and brainstorming.
Some examples of “whatever it takes” that we have provided in-house are:
• Negotiations with creditors to address overdue medical bills
• Provide computers, enroll in low-cost internet access, and computer training
• Develop budgets
• Job searches, including for teenagers in the family to develop strong work habits
• Counseling regarding legal issues
• Find inexpensive summer enrichment camps
• Drive students to college visits
• Transportation assistance
• Piano training to support teacher certification and employment prospects
• Aid in ensuring student IEP (individual education plan) is being followed
• Relocation support for moving into a house
One very important aspect of the program is the expectation that former participants will in turn volunteer to be of support to future participants. This enables those who have been helped to “pay it forward” and will also increase our volunteer pool.