There has been quite a bit of buzz around this topic since the beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Ministries across the country have found themselves on vacillating ends of the spectrum between empty and full houses with burgeoning waiting lists. So why the variance?
I recently spoke with homes from different regions of the country, each with varied programming models, ministry models, and eligibility criteria. I found that the homes with low occupancy rates (For the purposes of this writing, “low” will be less than 25%) repeatedly described their experiences of receiving calls from women in the community inquiring about their home or even interviewing some women, however, these women did not meet the criteria to be eligible to move into the home. Reasons ranged from past or current drug use, criminal record, previous pregnancies, previous children removed from care, children currently in care, or perhaps a generally poor attitude. Needless to say, this can be an exhausting daily merry-go-round for ministries.
Many of us serving in maternity housing ministries have found ourselves in similar shoes! The lives of our residents can be complicated and the definition of “success” is admittedly subjective. Using a tool such as the Evaluation Matrix for Maternity Homes, which you will find cost-free in the Heartbeat affiliation tools for maternity homes, can help to provide an objective and quantifiable measure of progress in the lives of residents.
It is important to provide data on a few specific outcomes that are directly related to your mission statement, typically about 3-5 outcomes. Our recommendation is to internally measure a wide variety of indicators (about 10-15) and externally present the selected few. This will help guide the public in awareness of specifically how your mission statement is affecting the community as well as keep you equipped with relevant data about many areas of a resident’s progress to have on hand for conversations with donors.
Great topic of discussion here. First, I’ll share that you are not alone. This is the most common place of exasperation among maternity housing ministries that I hear of on a regular basis! Several factors may play into this, chief among them being our high rate of unemployment nationally at this time. Most communities are facing labor shortages with ministries not being any different.
So, what to do to keep the ship afloat during the storm? While we have a shortage in labor, we ironically do not have a shortage of unpaid labor in most communities! My recommendation is to make the most of this season to build a first-class volunteer program in your ministry. A thriving volunteer program can bolster every aspect of your ministry from recruitment, evangelism, programmatic operations, and especially development/fundraising.
by Valerie Humes, Director of the NMHC
It is a busy season of vision-casting and building, building, building here in the National Maternity Housing Coalition. The NMHC exists to support your housing ministry in fulfilling the mission the Lord has given you with excellence. We are turning up the heat in our zeal to journey with you all year long. The Holy Spirit is calling a greater number of believers to provide homes for women in unplanned pregnancies all over the nation – all over the globe! We’ve been astounded as we’ve watched the spiritual explosion of hearts stirred with a desire to preach the gospel to the nations by opening their homes. We are witnessing the time-tested union of hospitality and evangelism shake communities.
So, what does this mean for you, our fellow Coalition Members? We are building feverishly with you in mind. Over the course of the next year, you can expect to find increased opportunities to directly ask questions and receive answers for your housing ministry, receive free content and helpful tools within the housing specialty all year long, and have a voice which directly shapes our annual in-person training opportunities.
Meet me in a conversation with Mary Peterson on Pregnancy Help Podcast to hear a little bit more about our vision for the maternity housing community! (Click here)
We want to hear from you!
Keep an eye out for fresh content from the NMHC here:
by Mary E Peterson, Housing SpecialistHeartbeat International
I was young and a little crazy when we started the pregnancy help organization. Someone said to me, in jest, "You are just too naïve to realize what you are attempting can't be done." Looking back, they were probably right. But nonetheless, God took me on a wild adventure of organizational development. Within fifteen years, I had the joy of sitting on my couch brainstorming the basics of a vision for a start-up ministry and I also had the joy of ribbon-cutting on our fifth location. For better and for worse, I experienced rapid organizational growth and learned a lot of lessons along the way. Here's a taste:
1) Know your mission. Grow from your mission.
I love a crazy new idea and lots of them were thrown at us -- run a ministry restaurant, start a theater troupe, build a neighborhood of low-income housing for single mothers. All of these captured my attention for a time but ultimately, were set to the side to stay focused on our core mission. Be really good at what you're good at. Be the ministry that the Holy Spirit breathed life into. Let the other stuff go...even if they seem wildly interesting.
2) Balance administrative growth with programmatic growth.
Programmatic growth is the fun stuff and it's the work that grantors and donors get excited about. But it is through building an administrative foundation that programmatic growth is sustained. Sometimes years’ worth of fundraising, staff development, and system building has to be done in order to grow well. If the foundation isn't strong, having the perfect furniture doesn't make sense.
3) Spend time on systems.
Systems are the plumbing to your organization -- getting information where it needs to go so that when you need it, it's there. Without systems, the entire organization experiences stress. Sometimes leaders who are great at big visions aren't great at systems. If that is case, get the right people involved to help build out the systems for your ministry. Growth is always disruptive but less so when strong organizational systems are in place.
4) Be wise and prudent. Be bold and courageous.
I love it when Scriptural ideas seem at odds, and this is a great example. Both statements are absolutely true. Plan, strategize, research, and consider. But also, dream, stretch, act, and step out in faith. Have a Board and staff around you that can do both!
5) Don't get ahead of your team.
The hard part of being a leader of vision is bringing the whole organization along. If you get too far ahead of them, you risk staff frustration, team exhaustion, and organizational strain. My rule of thumb as a leader was to peak ahead a few steps to see what major decisions lay ahead. I would begin to think about those decisions and gather information so that when it was time to consider them, we weren't starting from a blank slate. But your team needs to go on the journey with you -- and you might need to take the pace down to travel together!
Want to talk more about growth related ideas? Join us for a webinar on Growth and Ministry Development July 22, 2021 at Noon (Eastern)!
by Sharisa McDaniel, Transitional Living Program Manager at Catholic Charities of Eastern Oklahoma
The setting of a Maternity Home and Transitional Living offers a unique opportunity to influence the parenting practices of residents and family dynamics for generations to come. At Madonna House and St. Elizabeth Lodge in Tulsa, Oklahoma, team members observe parenting practices that range from healthy and loving to harsh and disconnected. In an effort to positively shape the futures of the families in the programs, the Transitional Living team at Catholic Charities of Eastern Oklahoma regularly examines the environmental influences and program initiatives to promote bonding and connectedness. As the family programming at Madonna House and St. Elizabeth Lodge has developed and evolved, the following adjustments have been made to the environment:
Catholic Charities has also established a Family Enrichment position to pro-actively educate parents on child development and to offer experiences that help to build healthy bonds. With a background of teaching early childhood education for nearly 20 years, Angela Grissom brings her experience and her passion for educating parents to the Family Enrichment role. Residents of Madonna House and St. Elizabeth Lodge meet with Angela every week to participate in parent-child activities and learn positive parenting practices. The Family Enrichment program offers:
With these efforts, mothers report:
The Family Enrichment program at Madonna House and St. Elizabeth Lodge is a pro-active approach to influencing strong bonds within resident families for years to come.
by Peggy Forrest
Most of us would agree that any organization’s ability to successfully carry out its mission is tied to the quality of its leadership. Be that a President, CEO, or Executive Director - the effectiveness of that person’s leadership, makes a difference. So, it’s easy to understand why it is mission critical to ensure the next leader will be the correct one, and the transition from one leader to the next will be as smooth as possible. This is especially true in maternity housing because of the deeply personal nature of the work. Leadership transition is critically important, and having a plan guiding that effort will help reduce the stresses which accompany such a transition. Succession planning takes focus and effort. It involves the Board of Directors working in partnership with the current leader.
A succession plan has three main goals:
A succession plan contemplates:
A succession plan should include:
Regardless of the age of your Agency, or the tenure of your leader, succession planning may be a timely and important topic to address during your Agency’s next strategic planning efforts.
Listen in to a podcast from Mary Peterson and Emily Prins on the same topic of succession planning!
Heartbeat International has additional information related to succession planning in our Governing Essentials Manual. Click here to find out more.
by Mary Peterson, Housing SpecialistHeartbeat International
My young nieces are on a chicken kick. They have hatched eggs, studied the various chicken breeds, and dreamt about being chicken farmers. When I catch them on the phone, chirping sounds fill the background. With a little chick cupped in their hands, they rattle on and on about this chicken's unique features, filled with stories of how cute it is now and how many eggs it will lay in the future.
Their love is a testimony to new life and springtime. It is simple and good.
The egg is a symbol of Easter, often found in religious artwork to indicate life springing forth from the darkness of the tomb. That symbolism has spilled over into the egg-dyeing, egg-hunting, and chocolate egg-eating traditions that we associate with Easter.
And in some ways, the egg echos the work of maternity housing. The women we serve often arrive trapped in the darkness of their lives but literally filled with life and possibility. We fuss to create a little corner that is safe and cozy for them; we fluff and fill their space with items to communicate excitement about their presence. We attempt to keep that mom in the warmth of a lived Christian experience and do regular check-ins to see how things are going.
We hope and pray in anticipation that new life will spring forth. We trust that renewal and redemption is possible in her life, just as we seek it in our own life. We accompany her as she awaits the new life that she carries and serve as a model of rejoicing and celebrating in the preciousness of that life.
May your egg traditions help you to remember the joy of life springing forth. May this season of Easter and spring and renewal and possibility have an impact on your life. May people look at the way that you love within your work and be inspired. May our hearts be simple and good!
Have you been catching Mary's Quick Tips on Facebook? Join the National Maternity Housing Coalition Facebook group to keep getting tips like this one from Mary Peterson.
by Becky Zemlicka, Mindz Eye Marketing
Whether your organization is already on social media, or you’re feeling pressured to join, here are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind.
Where to begin.
The main social media platforms where your audience will expect to find you are Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. There are definitely others, but as of right now, these platforms are the most popular. However, with the current political influences on social media, many users are switching to other platforms, so it’s something to keep an eye on.
What to know about Facebook.
Facebook is the most popular platform for organizations to engage with (right now), and is the most user-friendly platform to manage. Facebook has earned the reputation of being the “middle-aged moms” platform, but that’s not actually true. According to Facebook, their demographics are 19.3% male users and 13.2% female users between the ages of 25 and 34 years. However, women tend to be more “active” on Facebook than men, hence the reputation. Regardless, your content on Facebook should be aimed primarily to supporters and not clients. That’s not to say you shouldn’t make any client-focused posts. You will have some client-aged followers, and it’s still good for your supporters to see how you talk to and interact with your clients.
What to Post:
I often hear the statement, “We’re on social media, but we don’t know what to post or how often.” While my answer could be an article (or book) of its own, here is some general guidance:
*Source: Georgia Tech News Center
Becky Zemlicka is a speaker and owner of Mindz Eye Marketing, a virtual agency founded in 2001 that specializes in marketing, advertising and social media for small businesses and non-profit organizations. Zemlicka is also a co-founder of Ruth Harbor Ministries in Des Moines, Iowa – a home and program for young moms facing unplanned pregnancies or parenting young children.
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