New York City Chapter

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About Our Chapter

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Our History

Our founder, licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Dave Anderson, was running a foster care agency when he discovered the need for parents to have support before getting to the point of state involvement. His “Aha!” moment  happened when a Mom came to him asking for help and he realized he was set up only to help after something bad happens and Safe Families was started in 2003.

Today

Safe Families helps build resilient families by wrapping practical support and relational community around parents to help strengthen and secure the home environment. Safe Families doesn’t try and help solve all of a family’s problems. However, by befriending and supporting families, we can help reduce isolation and equip parents to problem solve how to manage life’s challenges, so that they never face them alone. All of us can play a role in helping to build resilient families.

Our Volunteers

Our volunteers are not case managers. They aren’t perfect parents; some of them aren’t parents. They are all compassionate NYers who believe that partnering with us to help strengthen families is one way we can all work together to help make NYC a great place to raise a family. We have a team approach to volunteering so that no one feels alone or overwhelmed. We average 3 volunteers matched with each family and our vision is to have volunteers in every neighborhood in all five boroughs.

Our Team

Safe families is a volunteer-driven ministry. Our volunteers do the most significant work of connecting with families. Our staff members function in three teams:

  1. Family Support Team (conduct intake with families and provide professional support to volunteers)
  2. Volunteer Mobilization Team (recruit churches and volunteers and thoroughly screen volunteers)
  3. Parent Engagement Team (elevating the voice of parent participants, leading Parent Cafes, and innovating new ways to improve the model) 
Nicole Amoako, Church Engagement Coordinator

Nicole is a life-long New Yorker, born and raised in the Bronx, NY. She grew up in a thriving church community that was diligent and active in serving the community, uplifting others and meeting the needs of the most vulnerable. She took this same passion for others into her career when she began working with young adults focusing on workforce development and economic justice. She currently lives in Yonkers, NY with her husband and son and is excited to serve her city with Safe Families for Children.

Emily Cowan, Family Support Team Lead

Emily has enjoyed calling many parts of the US south and midwest home, but in 2012 she and her family excitedly began a new adventure in Brooklyn. Emily received her Master in Social Work at the University of Illinois at Chicago where the ideals of prevention, equity and justice took deep root. In 2016 Emily was thrilled to come on staff with SFFC to support the amazing volunteers who connect with and support some of the most incredible and resilient families in NYC. Emily brings her professional experience working with at-risk youth and families and her personal experience as a licensed foster parent to the Family Support Team at SFFC.

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Adriana Caicedo, Community Liaison Uptown Manhattan

Adriana was born and raised in Colombia. She lived in Florida for ten years and moved to NY in 2007. Adriana is a single mom, passionate about serving the NYC community, and helping others, especially when it comes to cancer patients, survivors, and families, with their health and wellness challenges and needs. She believes that the multicultural scene that surrounds us, and the arts that we find at almost every corner can bring beauty, joy, and healing to our city. 

Jasmine Francis, Family Support Coordinator

Jasmine is from upstate New York. She grew up in a loving family who are actively involved in their church and serving their community. Her parents often modeled an open door policy, showing hospitality and sacrificial generosity to those in need. Seeing this example stirred a passion within Jasmine to serve the marginalized and often overlooked. She completed a Masters Degree in Human Services and has spent most of her time working in ministry. She is passionate about children and families and her desire is to see whole families thriving in healthy relationships with one another. She now resides in Brooklyn, NY with her husband and son and she is excited to serve NYC on the Safe Families Team. 

Laura Galt, Director

Laura has lived in Brooklyn since 2006 with her husband and 4 children. Her family has temporarily hosted several children from her block when they were in crisis, including respite foster care. These experiences led to her desire to lead a team to start Safe Families in NYC. Laura is passionate about mobilizing communities into the work of prevention and family stabilization.

Maria Lorenz, Family Support Coordinator

Maria is a Colombian-born relationship builder living in Queens with her husband. Growing up in a large, loving, Latin family in the US, she has lived the unique challenges of the immigrant experience. That experience, a calling to service, along with her mother’s work in client advocacy, have led to her involvement in mission-based work for the past twenty years. Rooted in deep and incarnational listening is her love of language and communication leading to strong relationships.

María Fernanda es una emprendedora creando y restaurando mejores relaciones en las comunidades para ayudar a desarrollar un mejor vivir. Ella es una inmigrante Colombiana que en la actualidad vive en Queens con su esposo. Habiendo sido criada por una familia latina grande y cariñosa en los EE.UU., vivió muchos de los desafíos únicos de la experiencia de los inmigrantes. Esa experiencia, una vocación de servicio, junto con el trabajo de su madre en la defensa de los servicios humanos, han llevado a su participación en el trabajo de misión durante los últimos veinte años. Su amor por el diálogo y la comprensión está arraigado en la escucha profunda que conduce a la construcción de relaciones sólidas.

Anna Lourelle Pelayo, Parent Engagement Coordinator

Anna sang at her local church choir back home in the Philippines and traveled around the world as a youth program director and singer on international cruises. Anna settled in NYC 11 years ago and has two adorable boys, aged 10 & 7 years old. Anna has always had the heart to help and a strong dedication in helping families and their wellbeing. Anna is a certified Family Healing Ambassador in the DOE where she facilitates healing workshops for parents, staff, educators, guardians and students. She was also one of a few women who worked at one of NYC’s largest art galleries. Her favorite quote is, “You’ll never know how strong you are until the only choice you have left is to be STRONG.”

Brandice Taylor-Davis, Parent Engagement Coordinator

Brandice is a Brooklyn transplant by way of Southern California. She moved to NYC 10 years ago to attend The New School University where she received her BA in Culture, Media and Film Studies.

Brandice, a certified life coach, works as an artist and teacher in the Tri-State area. She is the mother of a 5-year-old child and has a 12-year-old Puggle. Brandice lives by the motto, “There is no plan B – only different ways to get to plan A.”

Sydney Wright, Director of Church and Volunteer Mobilization

Sydney Wright engages churches all over the metro area, inviting them to partner with the mission of Safe Families for Children. She is originally from Dallas, Texas. Sydney has an extensive background in leadership and event planning/ management in the church world of NYC. Brooklyn is her home base where she is deeply invested in her church community.

Hilary Yeo, Family Support Coordinator

Hilary is a native New Yorker, thrilled to be back home after many years living in North Carolina, Indonesia, and Hong Kong, where she worked to provide help and hope to children, women, and families facing difficult circumstances. Hilary believes that a safe and loving family is the best environment for human flourishing and that by keeping children safe and helping families stay together, we can help build a great city. Hilary is happily married to her husband Curt, and they are the proud parents of two awesome adult children.