Not long after development Director Valerie Vetter moved back to Toledo to be closer to family, she began networking with Leading Families Home (LFH), a 501(c)3 non-profit, solidifying her commitment to community as both a professional and volunteer. A position was created for her and Vetter soon settled in. “Being the development director is so rewarding and so challenging. We can make Toledo a better place and I want to be a part of it,” Vetter says.
LFH helps families transition from homelessness to permanent housing by providing resources and programs in effective housing, economic and behavioral stabilization services. After calling the anonymous,
private helpline (2-1-1) an assessment is made to assist intact families as well as single women, single mothers and fathers with children. People welcomed into the Beach House Family Shelter are guided to find permanent housing in the community.
The key to compassion
“We meet participants where they are. Some people will have warrants, and we work with them. Some people will come to us with no ID, birth certificate, or social security card and we work with them to recover those items. Some people need help because of addiction or mental illness…The services that we provide extend even after they leave the shelter,” Vetter says.
LFH is planning to celebrate its 100th year, when Beach House Family Shelter (the original namesake established in 1921) will merge with non-profit FOCUS, a housing program component that began to create LFH in 2016. “What I found fascinating is (Beach House Family Shelter) started off as a refuge for ‘women of the night and wayward girls’, and in the original building, one side was a jail. Sometimes the housing would overflow and women would stay in the cells,” Vetter says.
Now building community
Fast forward to 2021, where the norm is a 95 percent success rate for families stabilized with effective housing. The figure includes 50 percent of the clients being children coming in with families and forty percent of adult clients earn income through employment. Construction continues, creating extra room at offices on Ashland Ave. in downtown Toledo.
“I always tell people, ‘You’re more likely to become homeless than you are to become a millionaire. It could happen to any of us at any time,’” Vetter explains. Her role in development provides a great view for the future. “I see us being able to solve homelessness through very intentional programs and support leading to successful outcomes,” she says. “A big part of what I love about my job are the community partnerships and relationships I’ve been able to forge and nurture. But when I see a participant hold the keys up to their new home…and see they’ve done something they didn’t think they could do, that’s the most rewarding aspect of Leading Families Home.”
Volunteer to assist the
LFH mission at lfhtoledo.org.