Displaying items by tag: housing

Question from the reader: Donors and grantors are asking me to provide metrics on the impact and success of our housing ministry. How do I measure this and where do I start?

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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.

Question from the reader: Our search for staff has been difficult. We’ve come up empty after months of looking and getting desperate. What do we do?

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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. 

To do this, look for creative ways to place a volunteer in the role of a typically paid staff member. Remember to be flexible! The duties of the volunteer will likely need to be modified compared to what a paid staff member may typically be responsible for. You will likely need to create first-ever volunteer roles and allow volunteers more opportunities for responsibility…and yes, also mistakes.  In times like these, I like to remind myself that bending is better than breaking and that changes aren’t required to be permanent. If it doesn’t work you can always return to the former way of doing things!

Curious how volunteers could possibly bolster your fundraising efforts? Many churches are asked to fund hundreds of different missionary opportunities leaving them with a need for an elimination process to select which missions are funded. In general terms, churches often like to invest in missions in which their congregants are directly involved. This leaves you with an opportunity  to make the most of your volunteer activities by asking volunteers to connect you with other congregants and groups within their church. With a history of volunteerism from congregants in the church, your ministry will then be postured for success when it is your turn to request funding for your mission field.

Quick tip: Sending a quarterly letter with an update about your ministry activities and a report on volunteer activity from within their church is often warmly received by supporting churches. 

Want help building your volunteer program? Click here to schedule a consultation.

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The NMHC is growing with YOU in mind!

by Valerie Humes, Director of the NMHCValerieHumes

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:

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5 Principles of Ministry Growth

by Mary E Peterson, Housing SpecialistGrowth
Heartbeat 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)!

Motherhood and Bonding in Maternity Homes

by Sharisa McDaniel, Transitional Living Program Manager at Catholic Charities of Eastern OklahomaBonding

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:

    • Most “containers” (bouncy seats, swings, bumbos, exersaucers, etc.) removed from the maternity home to promote mothers holding their babies.
    • Rolling basinets were removed to promote mothers holding their babies rather than pushing them down the hallways.
    • “Stroller Parking” was established to promote mother’s holding and carrying their babies in the home, rather than pushing them in strollers or keeping them contained in car seats.
    • “No Phone Zones” established in offices to encourage mothers to find more appropriate means of entertaining their children during provider appointments (toys instead of screens).
    • Songs, rhymes, and games are posted throughout the home to promote positive interactions between mothers and their children.
    • The program curfew establishes healthy routines for mom and baby.

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:

    • Talking is Teaching, a city-wide campaign that promotes reading to children ages 0-5 and provides free books and parenting curriculum.
    • Readers to Leaders, another early childhood reading program that also includes songs, rhymes, and games that provide bonding experiences for mothers and their little ones.
    • Education and guidance on the PACEs (the flip side of ACES (Adverse Childhood Experiences) – Positive and Compensatory Experiences), 10 experiences children need to live successful lives.
    • I Love You Rituals by Dr. Becky Bailey– bonding songs, rhymes, and games that include eye contact, touch, playfulness, and presence.
    • The Whole Brain Child by Dr. Daniel J. Seigel and Tina Payne – Parenting strategies that promote connection before correction.
    • The Parents as Teachers Home Visiting Program – Each session includes a parent-child interaction, development-centered parenting education, and family well-being guidance.

With these efforts, mothers report:

    • learning new parenting methods that focus on a bond of love,
    • creating healthy routines that benefit their babies development and sleep schedule,
    • establishing rituals that provide a sense of meaning in their family routines,
    • establishing habits of reading with their children,
    • using Whole Brain strategies to successfully navigate difficult behaviors,
    • greater awareness of the experiences that influence their children’s success in life and school.

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.

Succession Planning for Maternity Housing

by Peggy ForrestPeggy Forrest 244x300

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:

  • Guide the Board in the recruitment and selection of new leadership.
  • Facilitate a smooth transition
  • Maintain continuity of operations and organizational sustainability

A succession plan contemplates:

  • Planned departures
  • Unplanned departures
  • Internal talent development

A succession plan should include:

  • A timetable - from notice to end of transition period
  • A review of organization’s strategic direction
  • The development of a leadership profile
  • A recruitment strategy
  • An onboarding and transition plan
  • A communication strategy

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.


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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.

Simple and Good

by Mary Peterson, Housing SpecialistChicks
Heartbeat 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!

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Belong, Believe, Behave

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.

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Getting Started with Social Media

by Becky Zemlicka, Mindz Eye MarketingSocialMediaPhoneLaptop

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:

  • Keep social media social. Your followers want to hear what’s going on inside the walls of your organization and how you’re making an impact. You’ll get the most engagement on posts such as staff anniversaries, client testimonials and accomplishments, staff/client events, decorating for holidays, etc. Always include a photo.
  • Educate your followers. While the majority of your posts should be social in nature, it’s also a good idea to educate your supporters about your organization and its services. Post answers to some of the most common questions you receive about your organization; dispel misperceptions people have about what you do or who you serve. Be careful not to get too “soap-boxy,” but education should definitely be a part of your mix. Always include a photo.
  • Include a photo. Always. Posts with photos will be seen by more of your followers, and photos with human faces are 38 percent more likely to receive likes than photos with no faces. They’re also 32 percent more likely to attract comments.*
  • Plan and post often. I’ve heard it said that you can’t post too often. I don’t agree with that, but most of you have so much on your plates, you won’t error on the side of posting too often. I suggest no less than one post per week – more often, if possible. However, plan your posts. Develop a monthly plan to ensure you have a good mix of social posts, education, events, testimonials, etc. Having a plan will also help ensure you don’t forget to snap a photo during your next potluck or when a big donation of diapers comes in the door. I’m not saying you can’t have impromptu posts – you definitely should – but have a flexible plan so social media stays top-of-mind.

*Source: Georgia Tech News Center


BeckyZemlicka 2017 smaller 1Becky 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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Strategic Planning as Worship Work

by Sue BaumgartenStrategicPlanning

Thinking strategically is not one of my top strengths. By nature, I’m a connector and a communicator, an activator and a mentor. But with almost 3 decades of board service, (respectful of term limits and built-in breaks) and also serving as an Executive Director for a few years, I am no stranger to Strategic Planning. And, I currently serve on the National Maternity Housing Coalition (NMHC) leadership council and we’re in the middle of Strategic Planning as I write this.

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