An Interview With Meryl Sheriden, Chief Development Officer, Horizons for Homeless Children
Our Community Children's Centers began in Boston in 1994 and provide comprehensive early-education services for homeless children, ages 2 months through 5 years, while connecting parents with critical support services and resources which will help them break the cycle of homelessness and become self-sufficient. Our three Community Children's Centers serve 175 young children and their families each day.
In 2002, Horizons for Homeless Children launched its Training and Technical Assistance Program. HHC staff members present workshops and conferences for professionals who work with homeless families, including educators, social workers, shelter staff and government agencies with a goal of improving the delivery of services for young homeless children and their families in the broader community.
In addition, Horizons for Homeless Children provides leadership in championing issues affecting homeless children and families by advocating for these issues with policy makers and the public through its Policy and Advocacy Initiative. HHC's policy and advocacy work began in 2002 and seeks to engage and educate policymakers at state and federal levels and the public on issues affecting homeless children and families.
FS: How do you fund your mission?
MS: Horizons for Homeless Children funds our mission through public and private sources. Approximately one-third of the agency's annual revenue is raised through the public sector (local, state and federal government), and the balance stems from private donations (individual, corporate, foundation, community). Annual fundraising programs include fundraising events, personal solicitation, grant writing, direct response, online appeals and other activities.
FS: What are the biggest challenges your organization faces as far as fundraising is concerned? How do you overcome them?
MS: The biggest challenges Horizons for Homeless Children faces as far as fundraising is concerned include the following:
1. Raising awareness: Most people are not aware that there are so many homeless children in their city or state. In Massachusetts alone, there are more than 100,000 homeless children.