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. Church & 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 peer support workshops, 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 kids 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.

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 Galt is the NYC Director of Safe Families for Children. Laura has a passion for preventing family separation through mobilizing local communities to be good neighbors. This passion is driven by her own family, as two of her four kids experienced family separation, as well as through her involvement in her local community. Her family became close to a few families in a homeless shelter on her block and learned how ordinary neighbors can be instrumental in providing necessary family support so that families stay together. Laura has a B.S. in Psychology, M.A. in Theological Studies, and a certificate in Diversity and Inclusion. Laura has loved living in Brooklyn, NYC, since 2006 with her husband and 4 kids.

Soohee Kang, Church Relations and Volunteer Care Coordinator

Soohee moved to New York from Seoul, South Korea as a tween and identifies herself as an 1.5 generation immigrant, Third Culture Kid. She was introduced to her faith through her late sister, who had a great influence on her through a life of compassion and radical hospitality. Soohee’s three loves are art, theology and New York City. She has studied drawing, sculpting and painting at the Huntington Art League and Cornell University. She finished the City Ministry Program through City to City. She also participated in The Ministry Fellows Program with The City Seminary in Harlem. Soohee sees life and people as a sacred form of art in which all participate. She lives in Harlem with her husband and two children. 

Zach Lembke, Church Engagement Coordinator

Zach was born and raised in Northern New Jersey. Through his church’s mission work, Zach developed a passion for community engagement and service from a young age. He attended the University of Michigan and graduated with a degree in International Relations. After graduating, Zach helped plant a church in Detroit, where he worked for 5 years. In 2018, He returned to the New York area, working at LEAD NYC as a Community Liaison and Project Coordinator. He began volunteering with Safe Families for Children in 2019, and was deeply moved by their work and the families he connected with. He is passionate about the impact and mission of Safe Families, and is excited to help connect churches with families that are isolated and marginalized. In addition to his work at Safe Families, Zach works as a development consultant for non-profits and ministries in New York City. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, Zoey.

David Morales, Family Support and Church Engagement Coordinator

David is a Bronx native who almost became an at-risk youth and a statistic of growing up in the South Bronx in a single-parent household, but God had other plans. His life took a 180-turn at the age of 16 and since his encounter with God, he has been on a journey to help others learn about God. He married his amazing wife Tiffany in May 2007, and they have two sons. He serves as the lead Pastor of Legacy Movement Church in the Bronx which he planted in October 2020. David has a passion for teaching and seeing lives transformed. He has spent the last 15 years helping seasoned and new believers deepen their faith and he is excited to join in the mission and vision of Safe Families. Safe Families offers love, compassion, resources, and community support and it’s an honor to be part of an organization that makes a difference. SFFC embodies the saying, “it takes a village to raise a child.” 

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.”

Sydney Wright, Administrative Support

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.