Friends Association Works to Reduce the Impact of Trauma on Those Needing Housing Services

Young mom with her baby.
Image via Friends Association.

The Friends Association in Chester County keeps families together during times of crisis and trauma, supporting all families experiencing homelessness or who are at risk of homelessness.

The organization, which is celebrating its 200th anniversary, connects people with personalized case management, programs, community resources, and skill-building.

At the core of services offered by the Friends Association is Trauma-Informed Care.

It’s a recognition that individuals and families asking for help have gone through a traumatic event or have experienced trauma throughout their lives.

Neighbors may come to the Friends Association for emergency family housing or they may need help through the Eviction Prevention Court.

Using the concept of Trauma-Informed Care helps the staff at the Friends Association know how best to interact with neighbors and the community.

“At the core of being trauma-informed is first and foremost being respectful. We meet every family where they’re at,” said Friends Association Executive Director Jennifer Lopez in a LinkedIn video.

That means respecting the knowledge those in need have of their own families and providing information that’s most appropriate to their situation.

“It can be really scary not knowing what’s going to happen,” Lopez said, and the paperwork for services can seem daunting.

“So at every step of the way we’re informing them of what’s going to happen next, what they can expect, exactly what we’re going to do with the information that they’re providing us.”

A critical aspect to the process is making sure the individual and families feel emotionally and physically safe.

That means returning phone calls.

“We do what we say we’re going to do,” Lopez said. “If they’re having a bad day, we talk about it.”

Friends Association doesn’t immediately discharge someone if they’re agitated or having a hard day or are angry.

Instead, the staff will try and promote regulating and coping skills to help them with their situation.

When someone comes to the Friends Association in need, they visit a site that is clean and tidy, with colors in the building that promote calm and security, Lopez said.

“There’s so much research that says that the physical environment can help us feel better and it really can settle down a person’s brain who’s feeling in crisis.”

Key to the services of the Friends Association is the idea of choice.

“A hallmark of trauma is having choice taken away from you so when we can offer choice every step of the way it really goes a long way toward empowering our families of getting back in control of their lives,” Lopez said.

Find out more about the Friends Association and what services they provide.

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