Dear Anchor House Family,
This note comes with mixed emotions of some sadness and yet full of hope for the future. On December 1st, the Anchor House Board voted to make some significant changes to how we operate.
As we entered 2020, we dreamed and planned for the expansion of our program with aftercare services and future apartments on site. We met with an architecture and design team and had our first advisory board meetings exploring the future! We made a strategic decision to increase staffing costs (bringing on an executive director) in order to have the expertise and experience needed to lead our fundraising efforts for this expansion. We believed we were positioned to recoup the strategic investment with our new fundraising efforts. However, like so many small non-profits, when the pandemic hit it felt like the carpet was pulled out from underneath us. Our anticipated new funding streams evaporated overnight (e.g., grants, employer match programs, new donors and partnerships) and 30% of our regular monthly giving stopped. That was a devastating financial hit. Over the past 6 months, we have been funding our monthly losses with our savings (which was designated for expansion) and praying fervently for wisdom on what to do.
As we finish 2020, we are projecting significant losses with only a few months of savings left before we will be out of funds. The current financial climate has forced the board to pray on how to move forward. We felt like we had 3 options including 1. Continuing the current direction of Anchor House and hope something changes, 2. Partner/Merge with another like-minded non-profit, or 3. Close the Anchor House, sell the property, and donate any revenue from the sale. We spent a great deal of time thinking and praying through these options. Option 1 did not seem wise and option 3 made us sick to our stomachs.
This lead our board to explore a possible partnership/merger with another non-profit. We thought about other like-minded organizations but it would require us to relinquish the entire mission and program to another non-profit we don’t know, thus our influence and level of involvement would be unknown.
Possible Partnership Serving Sex Trafficked Aged-Out Foster Girls
As many of you are aware, Sara and I have another ministry and social service agency called Ohana (www.ohanaaz.org) which provides group homes and social services for foster children and special needs adults. Since 2015, Ohana has grown to 13 homes, over 200 employees, and a growing non-profit that has been widely recognized by the state as a premier model helping older youth. In the last year, the Department of Child Safety has reached out to Ohana expand our impact and provide additional services for 20 teen foster girls who have been sex trafficked. It is heartbreaking work, powerful but hard. Because of these girls’ past trauma, it is sometimes difficult and challenging, but so rewarding at the same time. The hardest thing is that we have several girls who are about to turn 18 without any family or support system and they need ministries like Ohana and the Anchor House to be their extended family. They are adults in the state’s mind, but still very much a child. Too often foster youth don’t have family to show them these skills or guide them into their true identity. We can step in the gap to make sure these youth experience wholeness, hope, and healing.
The unfortunate reality is that kids who age out of the foster care system are likely to end up dropping out of school, face homelessness, or end up in jail. The research shows:
- 800 youth age out of foster care every year in Arizona
- 20% of these youth will become instantly homeless
- 30% will be arrested
- 7 out of 10 girls will become pregnant by age 21
- Only 50% of aged-out foster kids will be employed at age 24
- Only 3% will gain a college degree
We have seen these statistics play out over and over again at the Anchor House. Many of the women we have served were in foster care and didn’t have the resources needed to transition to adulthood. We had many other women who had kids in the foster care system themselves because they became pregnant at such a young age and didn’t have the support system needed to be successful.
These young women are the women we are serving at the Anchor House, just a few years earlier before they have kids. They are some of the most at-risk women in our state. The demand is so great and there aren’t enough faith based places for them to grow.
With the relationships that Ohana has with the state, there is also a future opportunity to get a state contract to provide housing to these aged out foster girls through the Anchor House program. A state contract would provide a much needed revenue stream for the Anchor House. The funds would allow us to not only stay operating, but also look towards the future.
Partnership with Ohana AZ
The Anchor House board has prayerfully decided to partner and merge with Ohana AZ. The Anchor House will still continue to be the Anchor House and will continue to operate and serve at-risk and homeless women. However, our focus will shift from moms with children, to young women who have recently aged out of foster care. There are several reasons for this decision.
- We are looking up stream (more preventative than reactive). These young women we will serve will be the moms in the Anchor House we have been serving for 5 years if they are not helped. We are trying to break the cycle of abuse, trauma, and poverty for these women and their future families. We have an opportunity to help at-risk women get on their feet, learn vital life skills, and become healthy and successful adults so they can be strong and prepared moms for the future.
- Reduce overhead and administrative costs. Ohana AZ will provide the majority of the administrative support. Typically, small non-profits have very small budgets and staff that make it challenging to operate in the long-haul. Ohana AZ will provide the financial oversight, program supervision, and community engagement opportunities for the Anchor House.
- Decrease in Expenses. The direct staffing costs will decrease by $5,000 per month which will result in the Anchor House to break even on a monthly basis. The reason for this decrease involves around the structure of the program and additional support provided by the state for this population. There were a number of unique challenges when having several women with children in one home. Finding viable employment was a challenge and required a great deal of additional staff time to find the childcare resources needed.
- Fundraising efforts are multiplied. Ohana AZ already has a full-time Community Outreach director who fundraises for Ohana and can now have Anchor House as one of the programs he provides fundraising efforts for. The Anchor House will not require an outside fundraiser or executive director.
- A higher return on investment. We can serve up to 10 women in the home with this model compared to just 5. The cost of running the program is also less so we anticipate the cost to serve each women through the program to decrease by more than 50%.
Although the Anchor House Board feels this is a bittersweet transition, we are beyond hopeful for the future. We see this merge with Ohana as strategic as it can set us up to impact more women and families in the future.
The Transition Plan
The transition plan is to help each mom find a new place to live by the end of the year, with the possibility to extend until January 31st. There are 4 families we are in need of finding a new program for and we are already in active conversations with several programs who are possible positive options. On January 1st, Anchor House will merge with Ohana AZ. In January, Ohana will recruit and train 2 college age women to serve as resident assistants for the Anchor House. By February 1st, we will start accepting referrals for our young women to apply for the Anchor House program. The program fees, requirements, and structure will remain the same as they currently are. The reason for this quick transition is due to current staffing shortages we have at the Anchor House and staff available to supervise the home. Additionally, the funding levels are at an unsustainable level and we need to make this transition as quickly as possible while ensuring each family is supported and cared for through this transition.
How you can get involved
- Pray for this transition. Pray for the moms as we identify the best possible program for each of their needs.
- Pray for the future young women who will be moving into the home. This includes the resident assistants and the youth who will be living there.
- Pray for the transition of Mary. She has done an amazing job as our executive director. Pray for what God has in store for Mary and the Anchor House.
- Continue to give and participate in the tax credit. This transition only works if we can continue the current giving levels.
- Get trained to become a mentor to one of our future youth. You can get more information on that at www.ohanaaz.org/programs/mentorship
- Learn more about Ohana. Here is a quick video on the organization.
Thank you to all of you for the love and support through the years. Although this is a transition, we are full of hope that our best days are ahead of us. Please reach out to me personally with any questions or concerns you have.
Dr. Ryan Senters
Founder and Chairman of the Board
Anchor House Mission
Families stayed together
Moms started new jobs
Welcome to our Home
Our Living Room
Help us continue loving single moms and their babies.
The Anchor House is a non-profit organization that operates entirely off of the generous donations of our monthly partners. You can find out what your financial gift can do by clicking below:How Can I Help?
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