About Our Chapter
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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.
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.
Safe families is a volunteer-driven ministry. Our volunteers do the most significant work of connecting with families. Our staff members function in two teams:
- Family Support Team (conduct intake with families and provide professional support to volunteers)
- Volunteer Mobilization Team (recruit churches and volunteers and thoroughly screen volunteers).
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 and Family Coach Supervisor
Emily lives in Brooklyn, NY with her quirky, bearded, artist husband and her ninja aspiring 6-year-old. Hospitality, to friend and stranger, has always been central to how they do life. Since marriage, Ben and Emily have intentionally pursued family-like relationships with others; sharing homes, hosting guests and welcoming all at their dinner table. Emily graduated from Moody Bible Institute with a desire to love God and serve people. After a year of youth ministry in England, Emily returned to Chicago to pursue a Master of Social Work where her heart for justice and reconciliation took deep root. Since then, she’s worked with youth and at risk populations in Chicago, Indiana, and Brooklyn. For her, Safe Families for Children is the perfect union of ministry and justice.
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.
Jamie Knauss, Family Coach Supervisor
Jamie and her husband Rob, moved to Manhattan in 2014 from L.A. where they raised their 4 now-adult children. Jamie is grateful for the opportunity Safe Families provides to draw on her experiences as a pediatrician. She is excited to be part of an endeavor that helps us all better understand God's powerful and inclusive love as we walk with families in NYC who are striving to love and care well for their children but are overwhelmed by hardship, isolation and injustice.
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.
Sydney Wright, Church Engagement Coordinator
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.