An Interview With Meryl Sheriden, Chief Development Officer, Horizons for Homeless Children
Since 1988, the Roxbury, Mass.-based Horizons for Homeless Children has worked to "improve the lives of homeless children and their families."
With 102 employees and a $9 million annual operating budget, the organization provides opportunities for early childhood education to homeless children and, for families served long-term, "it connects their parents with the tools they need to achieve social and economic self-sufficiency."
Eight employees who are strictly devoted to fundraising help gather the 66 percent of the budget that is all philanthropic dollars. And, in a combined effort, the organization "provides leadership in advocating for homeless children and their families through leveraging and sharing expertise with others and advocating with policy makers and the public."
FundRaising Success: Please tell us a little about the organization's history.
Meryl Sheriden: Horizons for Homeless Children was established in 1988 in response to the unmet needs of the alarming number of children living in Boston-area homeless shelters. In 2002, HHC expanded programming across the state and today is the only organization in Massachusetts focused exclusively on the needs of young homeless children and their families. We accomplish our objectives through four programs: the Community Children's Centers, our full-time childcare and early education centers; the Playspace Programs, our shelter-based volunteer program; our Training and Technical Assistance Program; and our Policy and Advocacy Initiative.
Our Playspace Programs have been providing Greater Boston family homeless shelters with Playspaces and trained volunteers (called Playspace Activity Leaders or PALs) since 1990, and have expanded to provide these services to children in over 140 family shelters throughout Massachusetts. The PALs engage children in educational activities, giving each child an opportunity to learn and grow from these interactions, as well as have fun. Over 2,000 children in Massachusetts each week are served through the Playspace Programs.