In 2009, My Safe Harbor launched and in July 2009, we opened The Harbor House, which we share with the Orange County Children’s Bureau. We spent the next two years building community relationships, starting Mother’s Clubs and Electives, and doing the substantive work of developing the Strong Families Institute, our flagship program. In 2011 we received our first grant from the Lester Family Foundation.
In 2012 we completed the comprehensive Strong Families Institute curriculum. We also graduated our first cohort of 11 women. It is a compilation of national curricula, expert contributors, best practices, and practical application designed for adult learners. It includes 32 lessons complete with facilitator scripts, PowerPoint presentations and student workbooks in English and Spanish, evaluations, projects, and handouts. We also completed a teaching kitchen with a grant from Home Depot and a significant memorial gift. The western region of Home Depot chose us as its 2012 community project and partnered with their Anaheim store to provide labor, supplies, appliances, cupboards, and countertops. It has allowed us to provide Enrichment Electives in nutrition and kitchen organization and enhanced our ability to provide refreshments and meals for gatherings.
In 2013 we received the WORLD Magazine Hope Award for Effective Compassion for the Western region of the US. We were one of five finalists chosen from a variety of nonprofits across the country, and the youngest nominee with the smallest operating budget. In addition to a $4,000 prize, we received a four-page spread in the July 27 issue and an extensive interview on their nationally-syndicated radio program. We also graduated two cohorts from the Strong Families Institute. We were recognized by the Anaheim city council as a “rising star” in Anaheim with a full commendation and a presentation of our program at a city council meeting. We were awarded a Wal-Mart Community Grant and a Mission Increase Foundation matching grant.
In 2014 and 2015 we graduated four more SFI cohorts, added a part-time office manager, and took our volunteer corps to 197 – with 3700 volunteer hours! We received our first major grant of $147,000 from Sacred Harvest Foundation and added a Program Director to our staff. We also added our first off-site Mother’s Clubs, revamped the SFI curriculum, started our SFI Alumni Association, wrote a book with SFI mother’s stories, and did our first professional video.
In 2016 we began the professional publishing of our SFI curriculum, graduated three more cohorts, started three new off-site Mother’s Clubs at local elementary schools, took our volunteer corps to 200 people and 5,436 hours (seven gave over 100 hours, and one gave more than 300!!!), finished our Board Policy Manual and a number of other internal systems and procedures as part of the Transformational Impact Project with Sacred Harvest Foundation, and launched an annual fundraiser called “Christmas at Court.”