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Connected Families is Building Community in NONPROFITS

building community in nonprofits

Thanks to your support and engagement, Connected Families has become more than a library of programs and resources for parents. We are a community. AND we are transforming communities.  

Today you’ll be introduced to two organizations that have been equipping parents in the social services sector of the nonprofit world. We hope you enjoy their stories and are inspired by the different ways Connected Families is building community in nonprofits.

Learn more about how your organization might partner with Connected Families.

Meet Sharon Hengy of Life Services of Spokane, WA

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Can you tell us a little bit about Life Services? 

Life Services has served Spokane, WA for 30 years. We have a crisis pregnancy clinic, a mobile clinic, and maternity home. We also have a host home program, and offer mentorship/life skills training for both women and men through our various programs.  

How did you hear about Connected Families?

I heard Jim and Lynne speak in person when they came to Spokane several years ago. I knew this was the parenting curriculum I wish I would have had as a young mom.  It was just the resource we were looking for to train the new moms we serve at Life Services.

What Connected Families resources do you offer for your families/parents? 

We have used the Discipline That Connects with Your Child’s Heart small group course, and love the blog posts, which I share with the women in our program all the time.

How have you seen the impact of our resources on the parent/family community of Life Services? 

The staff sits in on the classes with the women so we can all use the principles presented in Discipline That Connects.  I think the Foundation of “You are SAFE with me” is such a great way to start because we all need to be aware of what is going on underneath the surface in ourselves and our children, regardless of age. 

Many of our young women have never been nurtured the way Connected Families talks about and have experienced harsh trauma as children. When our house parents use the principle of being safe, these young moms see such a contrast that they want to know more. Some examples of questions we might receive are:  “Why didn’t you blow up at me when I spilled the milk?” or, “You mean it’s ok to disagree and we can still figure things out?” When they see this modeled for them they better understand how to be safe for their own kids.

What is your favorite impact Connected Families resources have had on your community? 

I can remember one Sunday, one of our young moms showed up at my church quite a while after taking the course. She has two active toddler girls. I was just getting to my car after church and heard a commotion across from me.  The older child was running around her mom’s car as mom was trying to put the younger one in her car seat.  Mom had had a rough week and yelled at her daughter because she was afraid the young child would get hit by another car backing out. The little girl started crying and crouching by the car. I walked over and got slow and low, and just held her a moment, then explained that mom was just afraid of her getting hurt. I helped her to take a few breaths and she calmed down. Mom also became calm and turned to me to say thank you for reminding her what she had learned in Connected Families.

I also love when I hear of people who have completed the class telling another parent how great the class is and sharing about some of the principles such as loving unconditionally or do-overs.

Meet Reiko Cordeiro of Union Gospel Mission of Portland, OR

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Can you tell us about UGM

Union Gospel Mission was founded in 1927 to minister to the homeless and hurting on the streets of Portland. In December 2013, we opened the LifeChange Center for Women and Their Children in Beaverton. UGM’s LifeChange programs are Christ-centered recovery communities of men, women and children who are healing from homelessness, food instability, addiction, trauma, sex trafficking, and domestic violence. The programs last one to two years and incorporate a variety of classes, individual counseling, family therapy, therapeutic/support groups, and work therapy. www.ugmportland.org

How did you hear about Connected Families?

I’m a professional mental health counselor and a few years ago, while I was serving as a volunteer at UGM, a colleague came into my office and shared with me the results from her own CF “Parenting Strengths Assessment”. We were so excited to see an approach that didn’t just focus on “growth areas,” but acknowledged and amplified her strengths. 

As a clinician, I absolutely love using strengths-based and evidence-based tools with my clients. The parents in our programs (as many parents can relate to) often feel intense shame, vulnerability and insecurity about their parenting. Many of our residents have had child protective services involved in their lives either as children or as parents—and every parent has felt “not good enough” at some point or another. To be able to talk about their strengths is healing, life-giving, and sets a foundation for growth.

What Connected Families resources have you used for your families/parents? 

The parents in our program have used:

Parenting Strengths Assessment: We utilize this assessment with each parent before they start their parenting class, so that parents see that they have skills and tools that they are already using in their lives.

Discipline That Connects with Your Child’s Heart for small groups: Our mental health counselors have facilitated small groups of parents in our LifeChange programs. Parents meet weekly to go through the course material, videos and homework; and discuss their experiences throughout the week. We also offer them coaching sessions with our counselors. In their groups, they address the ways that the material applies, or even sometimes it doesn’t quite apply, to their lives.

The men and women in our programs are often working toward reuniting and restoring trust and safety in their relationships with their families and children. Some of our parents are parenting their children for the first time and need the tools, coaching, and guidance that CF provides. Our parents are single-parents of low- or no-income. In DTC groups they openly discuss their struggles with parenting and ask how they can apply the framework of CF to their specific challenge of the week.

The Connected Families Framework: I’ve referenced the framework in many classes when I teach residents about “repair-enting” themselves—being the parent to themselves as adults that they may have needed when they were children. I also use the CF framework when reestablishing a firm and healthy foundation in our residents’ hearts for healing core attachment wounds where as children (and even as adults) they have felt unsafe, unloved, unlovable, incapable and irresponsible. 

For so many of our residents, the messages “You are SAFE with me,” “You are LOVED no matter what,” “You are CALLED and CAPABLE,” and “You are RESPONSIBLE for your actions,” are statements they’ve never heard or experienced. And from the moment they walk in our doors, we pour into them these grace-filled messages.

Articles from Connected Families: These articles are incredibly helpful and dig into the very real-life issues our residents have. I hand out many of these articles to clients and parents when it touches on parenting questions they may have.

How have you seen the impact of our resources on the parent/family community of Union Gospel Mission?  

In one instance, a mom had not been able to have a relationship with her children for years. Today, their family is working toward reunification–mom has been using the tools and framework that she learned in DTC during her visitations with her kids. Since being in our program, her family witnessed her transformation and worked with her to have longer visits. This has built healthy and loving relationships with her kiddos.

Another mother is parenting her children for the first time in almost 10 years. Using the framework of Connected Families, she has been having difficult and meaningful conversations with her children and connects before coaching or correcting. Both of these moms continue to work faithfully and diligently to restore the trust with their children and families.

What is your favorite community impact of our resources?

I love seeing parents and children who had been separated for significant amounts of time being reunited because child protective services has determined that the parents have done the hard and necessary work. As these parents begin experiencing safety themselves at UGM, they are creating foundations of safety in their families. They are also beginning to connect with their children in meaningful ways. Their children’s hearts are healing, and in so many cases we are interrupting generational trauma. 

The parents in our groups love the grace-filled approach, and “do-overs”. I call them “Messy Blessings”: It absolutely stinks that children or their parents are ever hurt, abused, or neglected; and I don’t think anyone would ever wish those experiences on anyone. The messy blessing is that their journeys led them to a place where they were introduced to skills and tools that they otherwise may never have had access to or come across. Their lives are experiencing healing.

Here are some of the families in our program who have been impacted by Connected Families resources*: 

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*UGM has permission from these families to share their photos

Anything else you want to add? 

After we completed our group, we gave our moms Certificates of Completion from Connected Families, and they had the amazing opportunity to share their experiences and gratitude with Jim and Lynne over Zoom. Now, here at UGM, Jim and Lynne are celebrities with our parents. We are so deeply grateful for their generosity, kindness, and service. Thank you all so much! Because of all of your hard work, we can set generational healing in motion.

When Connected Families started in 2002, our primary focus was partnering with churches. Now we are excited to be able to partner with organizations from a variety of backgrounds! Whether you think Connected Families would be a good fit for your church, school, non-profit, podcast, blog, international ministry, business, or moms group, our resources are available to inspire and equip those in your community. We’d love to collaborate with you! Let’s get the conversation started.

A friend of Connected Families
A friend of Connected Families
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