Since 1969, several of San Antonio’s inner-city churches banded together to launch urban ministries to help meet various needs within the local San Antonio community. Eventually, this program expanded in scope, reach, and geography to become Endeavors, a national nonprofit that provides social welfare services to the community.
Endeavors Fairweather Family Lodge (FFL) was established in 2004 with the goal of providing supportive housing to homeless women with mental illness and their children. FFL is a campus of 20 efficiency apartments located on San Antonio’s Southwest Side.
Mothers and children who become homeless often are fleeing domestic or drug abuse. Unfortunately, domestic violence is on the rise in Bexar County.
“The average time a mother and their child remain homeless before they become a resident is two years,” said Endeavors Fairweather Family Lodge Program Director Erica Martinez. “That’s two years trying to find out where they will sleep every night. Or how they will clean their clothes. How they will brush their teeth or keep up with basic hygiene.”
The South Alamo Regional Alliance for the Homeless (SARAH) reported there was an 18 percent increase over last year for family homelessness.
Residents of FFL are provided with an array of supportive services, including professional counseling, intensive case management, parenting education, life skills classes, and respite care. Children at FFL are able to participate in an after-school program, the Healing Arts program, offered by longtime partner Jump Start, as well as the other supportive services.
FFL staff provide services through a strengths-based, trauma-informed care approach that allows them to build trust and positive relationships with all clients. All residents are provided the opportunity to heal from past trauma and gain self-sufficiency in a safe and supportive environment.
“These mothers and their children have had a hard life and they need all the support we can provide,” said Martinez. “The majority of the children that come with their mothers have some type of delay when they arrive, and 100 percent of our mothers have some type of disability.”
In addition, mothers are provided access to employment opportunities. Endeavors partners with Goodwill San Antonio’s Good Careers Academy to help mothers receive training and certifications in their chosen fields. Many women who stay in unsafe relationships do so to keep a roof over their and their children’s heads. Endeavors Fairweather Family Lodge works with community partners to help them find stable housing and employment opportunities so they don’t have to choose between safety and living on the street.
“I had some life-altering events happen and I had to grow up too fast. I made some bad choices and lost everything,” Fairweather Family Lodge resident Mandy Longoria said. “I came to Endeavors because I needed the structure to set me on the right path.”
In February of this year, Longoria began taking classes for her Certified Nurse Assistant certification and graduated this summer. “Endeavors is my biggest supporter. … They helped me get my self-esteem back,” Longoria said.
In the last 15 years, the program has served over 250 families, or close to 800 individuals. Endeavors is aiming to expand this program in order to provide these critical services to more homeless families in San Antonio. On Thursday, Oct. 17, the community is invited to attend the Endeavors Golden Gala, where proceeds raised will go directly towards expanding the Fairweather Family Lodge campus to double its footprint and provide supportive housing to a larger pool.
“There is still a great need and we are looking to expand on what we already know works for our mothers. Ninety-six percent of mothers who were residents at FFL have sustained or maintained housing after exiting the program,” said Martinez.
The Endeavors Gala will take place from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Pearl Stable. Tickets can be purchased for $250 each. For more information and to purchase tickets click here. Those who are unable to attend but are interested in making a donation to the Endeavors Fairweather Family Lodge Capital Campaign, click here.