SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – For the past 24 years, women in the Bay Area who found themselves homeless and pregnant had a place to turn, thanks to a San Francisco resource center called the Homeless Prenatal Program. Over the years, their mission has expanded to move beyond prenatal care for mothers to holistic care for families.
Founder and Executive Director Martha Ryan said, “When we first started our mission was to help deliver a healthy baby, but we realized very early on that the families needed much more than just prenatal care and once the baby was born the baby needed help. So part of the work that we do to help families and to help break the cycle of childhood poverty is by investing in the parents.”
KCBS’ Connie C. Kim talks to Founder and Executive Director Martha Ryan:
The Homeless Prenatal Program includes job training, housing which housed 483 families last year, and education. They have a charter school that helps parents get their GEDs and high school diplomas which would help them get better jobs.
“We really try to get families back on their feet,” Ryan described the heart of their services, “take care of the issues that have kept them down whether it’s domestic violence, substance abuse, all related to poverty, and then to guide them on this journey as they exit poverty.”
When a client and his/her family enter their doors, they may stay with the program for a few months or many years depending on their needs.
“The families that we work with are very grateful for … what we’re able to give them. They’re grateful that we believe in them, they’re grateful that we don’t judge them when they walk through our doors and they’re grateful for the services that we have,” Ryan spoke of the 3,500 families that are served each year.
They say they are the first agency in San Francisco to hire former clients as program and case managers.
“More than half my staff are former clients and they shepherd families on their way to stability and out of poverty,” Ryan also noted their program in recruiting their own clients to be hired as staff. “They’re role models for the families and families are grateful for that and because they were there once before they don’t judge people.”
Their annual luncheon coming up on November 19 at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco will honor volunteers, the Golden Gate Mothers Group, as well as a former client, a woman who had once become homeless because of domestic violence.
Inspiring stories such as her’s “is the fuel that keeps me going,” Ryan commented. “I’m so grateful to have been a part of this program. I’m grateful to the clients who have taught me so much themselves. They’re so resilient, they’re so strong.”
With their many services, need for donations, and events such as their annual holiday party and holiday meal deliveries, volunteers are always needed. For this upcoming holiday alone, they plan on serving 500 families with holiday meals.
For more information on the Homeless Prenatal Program and to find out how you can get involved, go to www.homelessprenatal.org.
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