About Our Chapter
We are currently recruiting volunteers to be Family Coaches and Family Friends. We have trained over 400 volunteers at our live trainings in NYC. We currently have 90 approved volunteers. We have a team approach to volunteering so that no volunteer feels alone or overwhelmed. We average 3 volunteers matched with each family, so we are in great need of more volunteers! The vetting process includes an application, 3 references, 2 background checks (FBI/NY State fingerprinting, child abuse clearance).
Church partnerships are the foundation of our ministry to serve families in crisis. We have 19 congregations fully committed to be a Safe Families church, and are continually seeking to partner with more churches. Our current churches are from Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, the Bronx. We are praying for church partnerships in all 5 boroughs.
Safe families is a volunteer-driven ministry. Our volunteers do the most significant work of serving families in need. We currently have five staff members. Laura Galt began as the leader of the launch team in April of 2015 and became the NYC Chapter Director in June of 2016. Emily Cowan was hired October 2016 as the Intake and Family Coach Supervisor. Jamie Knauss has volunteered with Safe Families from the beginning, and in December 2017 took on a more formal role as our Church Engagement Coordinator for upper Manhattan and the Bronx. Charisma Ross joined the team as the Volunteer Engagement Coordinator in 2018. Amy joined in late 2018 to oversee intake and agency engagement.
Laura Galt, NYC Chapter Director
Laura has lived in Brooklyn, NY for 12 years 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 passion to lead a team to start Safe Families in NYC.
Emily Cowan, Intake 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.
Jamie Knauss, Church Engagement Coordinator for Upper Manhattan and the Bronx
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.
Charisma Ross, Volunteer Engagement Coordinator
Charisma was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. She is the wife of Reid, the mother of two toddlers and the daughter of Panamanian immigrants. Despite her love and loyalty to the borough of Brooklyn, Charisma ventured south and attended Davidson College in the beautiful state of North Carolina. During her time at Davidson, Charisma's interest in Child Advocacy began to grow, eventually leading her to Hofstra Law School where she obtained her J.D. as a Dwight L. Greene Memorial Scholar. She hopes to live out pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father which means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.
Amy Petersen, Intake and Agency Engagement Coordinator
Amy moved to NYC 5 years ago and has lived in Queens for the majority of her time in the city. She first started volunteering with domestic violence survivors in her early years of college and was constantly impressed with the resilience of the families she encountered. She worked with homeless adolescents in Florida and eventually moved to NYC to pursue her Master’s in Social Work. Amy has spent several years as a mental health clinician working with children in hospital setting and has an expertise in child and adult mental health. She is passionate about empowering marginalized families to thrive and being a part of bringing about lasting societal change.