March 2022 Member Spotlight: FAM – Family Assistance Ministries

Family Assistance Ministries

Family Assistance Ministries is a faith-based charitable non-profit organization assisting those in need in Orange County with resources for food, shelter, and personalized supportive counsel and aid, helping clients bridge the gap from dependency to self-sufficiency.

FAM is one of our family Access Points and participates in our family shelter system. They operate Gilchrist House, FAMily House and the Aliso Viejo transitional housing program.

About FAM:
FAM was established in 1999 when founder Ellen Gilchrist responded to the lack of services available in southern Orange County. FAM’s first client was provided rental assistance and financial counsel to prevent eviction. By the second month, this person became self-sufficient. FAM has provided a growing continuum of services in response to the changing needs of those at-risk in our community. All people seeking help at FAM receive case management, financial counsel, and nutritious food options.

Ultimately, our focus is on prevention.

Today FAM provides food, shelter, and client aid to tens of thousands in Orange County. We provide financial assistance for rent, utilities, transportation, medical, dental, and prescription drugs, as well as financial counseling, free income tax preparation and collaboration with other social services organizations to provide referrals and medical screenings, immunizations and much more!

Family Assistance Ministries (FAM)
Family Assistance Ministries (FAM)
Family Assistance Ministries (FAM)
Family Assistance Ministries (FAM)
Family Assistance Ministries (FAM)

Share an innovative approach you have used to prevent and solve family homelessness:
FAM believes in a client-centered approach to support families in resolving their homeless episodes. Through a diversion perspective, the Homeward Bound program began five years ago. It is designed to connect families to their natural support system by providing mediation service to reconnect the family or friends and provide transportation cost assistance if their support system agrees to provide them with a place to stay while they increase income to maintain a rental unit of their own. They create this plan with the family to quickly exit them from the streets and bridge them to a longer-term solution.

How has your agency reduced barriers for families to access services and what did you learn in the process?
Understanding that availability may not mean accessibility FAM operates a decentralized service delivery model. They partner with Their faith-based partner and the family resource centers to established satellite sites where families have access to the FAM menu of services. Their satellite offices are located in Laguna Niguel, San Juan Capistrano and Dana Point. Their with the South Orange County and Family Resource Centers allow them to serve as the housing arm of the resource collaborative. Their main access point is in San Clemente.

Share ways in which your agencies use Diversion/Problem-Solving strategies to help resolve family homelessness?
Ending a family’s homeless episode is the goal. They work with the family to empower them to be the driver in creating and executing their plan. FAM case managers exercise creativity and strong resource identification to connect the family’s goal for housing to available resources to quickly end their homelessness.

How does your agency outwardly demonstrate your commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion in the programs and services you provide?
Their ongoing goal is to improve how they engage and provide a true voice to the community they serve. In this spirit, FAM hires and trains a team to hold integrity to equitable practices. They offer services and resource in languages that meet the needs of their families.

What is your one sentence for how your agency visions ending family homelessness?
Family homelessness will end by a continued commitment to developing adequate and accessible housing.

To learn more about our member, FAM, Family Assistance Ministries, visit: