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Organization assisted by United Way helps keep families safe during pandemic

Published: Aug. 14, 2020 at 6:00 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The Sioux Empire United Way serves about 1 out of 3 people in the community through 80 different programs. The organization has continued providing funds during the pandemic because children, vulnerable adults, and people in crisis still need help.

Safe Families for Children is an organization that helps families dealing with a crisis. That crisis can be something like eviction, serving time in jail, or homelessness.

“So it’s really like having a wonderful next-door neighbor or having an aunt or grandma that these people don’t have and stepping in and saying yeah of course I’ll watch your kiddos for a few days,” Heidi Thomas said. She’s a family case coach with Safe Families for Children.

Families volunteer to host kids anywhere from a couple of days to three months. The average time is about two to three weeks though and costs the organization about $1,500. The families do not get paid for hosting kids. Thomas said 25% of her budget comes from the United Way.

"If we didn't have that, we wouldn't be doing what we're doing here, and we wouldn't be able to serve all of the people that come to us for help," she said.

Right now amid the pandemic, much of that help is needed for expecting moms.

"A lot of our services have been provided to mothers who are having children, having new babies in the hospitals, and I guess previously, they were probably bringing their children to the delivery room, where now they're not allowed to," Thomas said.

The first volunteer in the state of South Dakota for Safe Families for Children said the mission struck her heart.

“Based on my childhood and the struggles that I was able to overcome, this gave me a tangible way to walk with other families and help change some cycles in their families,” Angel Metzger said. Metzger is the ministry lead for Safe Families for Children.

She's become very passionate about the organization, encouraging people not to be afraid to ask for help.

"We do everything to make sure that that child is safe, loved, encouraged," she said. "It takes much more courage to ask for help than to give it. I just applaud anyone who is willing to do that."

Right now, safe families for children has 85 host families, 30 family coaches, and 10 churches that work with them on connecting people in need to host families.

Copyright 2020 Dakota News Now. All rights reserved.

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