Homelessness is not a new phenomenon. Shelters, soup kitchens, and a wide variety of connected programs have been implemented in communities all across the globe with varying levels of success. These programs usually have a heavy focus on metrics, and while they have a goal of assisting an individual in the transition from homelessness to housed, they typically only achieve short-term relief.
In a town often thought of for its picturesque historical village, prestigious college, and role in the founding of our country, people rarely think of Williamsburg, Virginia, in terms of poverty and homelessness. Yet, according to the most recent census, 9.3% of families in the city of Williamsburg were under the poverty level, including almost 30% of those under 18. While few visitors would encounter the challenges present in the community, the reality of need can’t be denied.
3e Restoration Ministry, founded by Fred Liggin in 2014, has taken shape in the midst of this setting. This organization has sought to challenge many of the prevailing standards of operation in work with homeless individuals. As a result, they state that their focus is on process, not programs. A brief overview of the organization and its language quickly paint a picture of a different type of organization. Most organizations working with this population would refer to individuals as clients, not Friends in Need, the term that 3e uses in describing those with whom they are blessed to serve.
The 3e Restoration Process is concerned, not so much with transitions, but with deeper concerns: transformation. In the framework of its unique model, the organization points to the importance and impact of friendship that is necessary to walk with those in need. 3e approaches homelessness in a holistic way, addressing the whole person. At the core of the 3e methodology is a commitment to developing community and friendship.
The organizational approach that 3e utilizes is heavily grounded in theory and practice. The organization collects and examines qualitative data in the form of stories, incidents and symbols that represent the systemic shifts taking place in the lives of the Friends in Need. 3e has determined key dimensions of activity and quantitatively examines what the Friend in Need successfully attains when placed, in contrast to how these activities were performed in the past, e.g., learning and applying symbols, making better or more informed decisions versus impulsive decision making, or accomplishing major tasks versus procrastination or running from responsibilities.
This unique framework is built on the commitments of partnering organizations. Churches or other organizations wishing to participate follow a standard model that includes Partnering Churches/Faith Communities, Servant Leadership Coordinators, 3e Coaches, All-in Friends, and the Friend/Family-in-Need. By recognizing the reality of needs that are present for people walking in homelessness, 3e has developed a powerful approach to an issue that deeply impacts families from generation to generation.
As a Friend in Need transitions from homelessness to housed, or from extreme poverty to stability, a total life re-orientation must take place. In other words, they must experience more than behavioral modification. They must experience systemic change and transformation.
3e believes that homelessness and poverty affects the whole person physically, emotionally, cognitively, socially, and spiritually. They term this the Five-Fold Reality of Poverty and Brokenness™. In its literature, 3e points to the tendency over the past several decades to address poverty by influencing one to three of these realities, but failing to address all five realities in a holistic and systemic manner.
While 3e Restoration has only been in existence for a few years, its transformative impact is already being noticed throughout southeast Virginia and has been implemented in Fredericksburg, Virginia, with other communities seeking to implement the 3e process strategies in communities across the United States.
Friday, meet Tammy Harden, Executive Director of 3e Restoration Ministry.
This article is reprinted from Vol. 3, No. 1, of Nonprofit Performance Magazine. Subscribe today.
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