Upon request, formerly homeless men and women are joined with members of a Faith community who will become their friends and advocates as they make the heroic effort to normalize their lives off the streets and out of the shelters. The goal of the HFA is to mobilize the faith community to end long term homelessness and establish full community inclusion for formerly homeless mentally ill men and women. Abba’s Family is developing Critical Transition Care Teams (CTCT) to come alongside these individuals during the first 6 to 12 months after they are housed to develop vital social and spiritual support and connectivity with the community. The faith community is uniquely positioned to make a significant impact through caring and enduring relationships. This Pilot Project will include a small group of individuals and faith communities to establish a template and model for larger numbers in the future.
A CTCT is made up of three to four individuals from a faith community who will be trained and equipped by Abba’s Family to befriend formerly homeless mentally ill individuals as they are housed. Training will focus on the specific life story of the team’s new friend. It will include an overview of their friend’s specific psychiatric disability and provide some general parameters of their most pressing needs. Teams will be given ways to think about how to join their new friend in ways that are effective. Project participants will work with Abba’s Family staff to develop effective ways for the friends to experience optimal inclusion in the life of their community. Training will be organized around the transformational effects for everyone involved when the goal is to simply develop enduring friendships. The fundamental principle that drives the effort is the belief that each faith community has a rich and storied tradition as well as mandate to care for those who are at greatest risk. Multiple service providers and health care professionals will be working with each person as they are housed as well. It is anticipated that the CTCT will be the social and spiritual support that often is not available to these individuals.
Abba’s Family will provide ongoing consultation, technical support and hands on involvement that members of the team and their friends will need. This will be done by a licensed clinical social worker trained as a mental health provider and who is appreciative of and sensitive to each faith tradition involved. It is anticipated that teams from different neighborhoods and faith communities will work together as part of this initial pilot. Equipping will also be provided to all teams as a group.