Does this look like an organized power office to you?
For the women and their children served by Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN), this little filing bin filled with folders is one more step on their path towards self-sufficiency. IHN of the Main Line is committed to helping homeless families in our community to achieve lasting independence. The program serves three families at a time, providing safe temporary housing, meals, support services, and training in areas like money management, parenting, and even organizing skills, in partnership with HeartWork Organizing.
Darla DeMorrow, owner of HeartWork Organizing, has been providing filing bins just like this one to families in the IHN program for over a year. “Just because you are homeless, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t or can’t have a home office or command center. In fact, when you must prove your need for services and basic care almost every day, it becomes even more essential to have your family’s documents organized,” says DeMorrow.
DeMorrow started volunteering with IHN several years ago as a dinner host through the Wayne United Methodist Church. IHN-ML involves the community by housing the guest families overnight in area churches throughout the area, rotating to different churches every week. The host church and other community groups share dinners with the guest families throughout the week. Since the guest families often have small children, DeMorrow saw it as a way to involve her own family with two kids under 5. “We’re making dinner anyway. When it’s our turn, we take it to the host site and share our meal with the IHN families. My kids love playing with their new friends.”
Each family spends a maximum of three months in the program, working to secure a job and permanent housing. During the day, the children attend their regular schools, and the parents spend time at the IHN Day Center in Norristown (see open house invitation below), where they search for work and complete paperwork and forms required for services they and their children require.
“That’s where HeartWork Organizing can help by offering these simple organizing tools, ” says Sue White-Herchek, Executive Director for IHN- Main Line. Some of the parents consider themselves organized, but even the organized among us can get overwhelmed when we have a major life disruption. Becoming homeless is certainly a major life disruption. “Darla meets with the families, provides them with basic filing supplies, and sets up filing categories that apply to everyone in our program. These mini-filing cabinets can then be stored at the IHN Day Center so clients can stay organized while they are with us. Clients then transition their new filing system to their next home as they move towards self-sufficiency.”
Although IHN guests may have filing categories the general population may not (like WIC/SNAP, formerly known as food stamps), everyone has the basic paperwork categories, like employment/job search, insurance, taxes, memorabilia, and vital records (which includes birth certificates, diplomas, and marriage certificates). “One IHN guest shared that she had a traffic ticket that cost her over $500 because she didn’t have updated insurance papers in her car. But that’s also happened to friends and non-IHN clients as well. No one I know can afford that kind of disorganization,” says DeMorrow.
The organizing class offered to IHN guests ends by summarizing that being able to find what you need can save you money and time, and having documents ready, clean and complete makes a good impression wherever you go. These points are universal, says DeMorrow. In her work as a Certified Professional Organizer (R) for nearly seven years, she has seen the same struggles with paper and information management at all points of the socio-economic spectrum. “I’m grateful that I can work with IHN to assist families who would not be able to afford professional organizing services otherwise and who are moving through a particularly challenging time in their life.”
Open House Invitation:
Wednesday, September 12, 2012, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Come visit the IHN – Main Line Day Center at 1449 DeKalb Street, Norristown, PA 19401
See our office space, day center, and transitional housing unit. Meet our staff and Board members. Light refreshments will be served. For more information contact Sue White-Herchek at 610-277-0977.
About HeartWork Organizing:
Darla DeMorrow, owner of HeartWork Organizing, is a Certified Professional Organizer(R) and member of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) and NAPO-Greater Philadelphia Chapter. She offers the IHN program under NAPO’s Quantum Leap program. Supplies are donated by HeartWork Organizing and by Esselte. You can reach her at 856-905-3202 and Darla @ HeartWorkOrg.com.
About Interfaith Hospitality Network- Main Line
The Interfaith Hospitality Network–Main Line (IHN-ML) is committed to helping homeless families in our community to achieve lasting independence. IHN-ML is headquartered in Norristown, PA, and unites people from different segments of our caring community to work collaboratively to alleviate the suffering of homeless families. Our goal is to provide the programs and services necessary to address the underlying causes of homelessness and to return our client families to a self-sustaining life.We have made the conscious decision to provide safe, temporary housing, meals and support services to homeless families in Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties. IHN-ML is one of 115 affiliates in 38 states, including Family Promise in the District of Columbia. Family Promise was founded 20 years ago, when the first Interfaith Hospitality Network opened its doors and then grew into a national organization. There are additional IHN affiliates throughout the Philadelphia and NJ region.