Friday, December 23, 2011

Remember the Neediest

By Greg

I am excited to let you know that Travelers Aid Family Services of Philadelphia (of which I'm on the Board) recently brought on a new Executive Director, Gloria Guard. She is an experienced leader who will help us forge a bright future for the hundreds of families that Travelers Aid serves each year. Please read Gloria's appeal letter below, and consider whether you can spare any household items, toys, furniture, volunteer time, money or anything else that could help homeless families, as we contemplate a brighter 2012. I wish you and yours a joyous holiday season and a happy new year!


Dear Friends,

I have just accepted the position of Executive Director of the Traveler's Aid Family Services of Philadelphia. Known historically for helping stranded travelers, TAFSP has morphed into a shelter, social services, education, and housing agency for 150 homeless families. Like our families, the agency is living from "hand to mouth" and depends almost wholly on government grants.

When I started work this Monday, I was disappointed at the lack of any home-like amenities for our families. The staff is compassionate and professional, while being paid minimal salaries, and the board rolls up their sleeves and pitches in, but it is not enough to make our place cozy for the families.

[Imagine each bed with a pillow... more youth beds like this one. How about a real lounge? Or a coat tree for clothes?]

There is a way you can help us so that we can make the lives of the kids and parents comfortable and warm. Bring us your out-of-date furniture, especially small tables, floor lamps, clothes trees, bean bag chairs, new pillows, linens, and some fun trikes, saucers, big wheels, and rocking horses.

OF COURSE, we need financial support. It's difficult for us to afford even a half-day training workshop for staff, so you can imagine that fundamental organizational necessities are all in need of replacement or development. We need to massively upgrade our technology — not only internet access and faster/consistent phone and internet service, but we also need a system to capture important performance measurements.

We must create an efficient property management program for our 75 units of off-site apartments and develop a housing reserve for anticipated repairs. I would love to create an early infant and toddler program, bring on the capacity to spot early childhood developmental issues, add a part-time therapist and a drug/alcohol expert, and staff up a development and compliance department.

Even facing all these challenges, I am totally psyched! There is so much opportunity and so much room to grow. We have the essentials — the board governance and support, incredibly dedicated staff, a history of best practices in running family shelter and services, stable finances and solid audits it's an organization that I am proud and lucky to lead.

If you want to help in any way, please contact me via email —, write me and deliver goodies to TAFSP, 111 North 49th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19139. My work phone is 215 471 9475. Sorry we have a real problem making pick-ups (no excess staff). For more info:

Please help, in any way you can!

- Gloria