A stable home. A healthy child. A resilient family. A safe community.
Our Housing First model combined with our trauma-informed, 2-generation approach makes our community better for all.
Friends is unique in that we focus on keeping families together during times of crisis while connecting them with highly personalized case management, community resources, and skill-building. We support all families experiencing homelessness or at-risk of homelessness in Chester County structured as they are when we meet them, including single moms and dads, two-parent, multi-generational, grandparent, and LGBTQ+ families.
We work with families to empower them as they build on existing strengths and skills and work together to build resiliency, stable housing, and financial independence.
Friends Association believes that to fulfill the mission and vision we hold for our community we must directly challenge ourselves and deconstruct frameworks of oppression, while building opportunities for learning, change, and accountability. Seventy-eight percent of the families we serve at Friends are from communities of color, fifty-four percent of whom are Black families.
Friends has made great strides in the last few years to make sure that our staff and Board represent the communities of the families we work within our programs.
- We realize that the work of Anti-Racism is ongoing – and as an agency, we prioritize engaging diverse perspectives and evolving as necessary to embody inclusivity and equity.
- We acknowledge the issue that our Leadership Team is 100% white and we commit to creating Leadership opportunities for People of Color.
- We are committed to transforming each aspect of our organization by confronting our own biases and operationalizing our values.
- We are committed to creating a culture where staff, stakeholders, and leaders are skilled at talking about race, racism, and their implications.
- We are steadfast in evaluating our programs to ensure that they are culturally responsive and explicit about race, racism, and race equity.
- We are dedicated to treating our communities of color as stakeholders, leaders, and assets to the work we do and to centering their voices.
- We are committed to focusing on the proactive counteraction of race inequities inside and outside of our organization.
Bold, innovative, and committed. The Friends team is a small but mighty force that draws on its own experiences and expertise to provide families with the care and support they need to be empowered to succeed.
Friends Association Board members are dedicated and passionate about ensuring that every family in our community has a home. Their experience spans the nonprofit, legal, construction, medical, and financial and social services industries.
Chester County Bar Association
Immediate Past President
Unruh, Turner, Burke & Frees
Mary Ann Nagel
Medical Social Worker
Main Line Health
Barton South Communications
Steve E. Jarmon
Lamb, McErlane, PC
Univest Bank & Trust
Leslie B. Lavender
Senior Relationship Manager
Citizens Bank, NA
Lamb, McErlane PC
EVP, Chief Credit Officer
United BioSource LLC
Hogan Lovells US
The Simmons Law Firm
Yolanda Van de Krol
Clerk of Courts
Certified Financial Planner
Market Street Wealth
‘Proceed as the Way Opens’: To undertake a service or course of action without prior clarity about all the details but with confidence that divine guidance will make these apparent and assure an appropriate outcome.
- Founded on Quaker principles recognizing the inherent value of each individual in our society
- Quaker and African American women, led by Friend Ann Yarnall, provide a home for children who had lost their parents in the city of Philadelphia.
- 30-50 children each year received a home and schooling, many of whom were the children of individuals who had escaped enslavement
- Moved to Cheyney, Pennsylvania and focused on providing education, training, mental health support and, most importantly, a home for girls and young women
- Moved to the second floor of the YMCA building in the borough of West Chester, by the end of 1982 trend toward foster care, little need for shelter housing girls, shelter is empty
- Emergency shelter provided to a family, start of Emergency Family Shelter that continues today
- Foster Care program began with a request for care for special needs, older children
- Coatesville Project, a housing and drug & alcohol program in Oak Street Public Housing started
- Bridge Housing Program, assisting families transitioning from shelter started
- Moved to Kesher Israel Synagogue providing shelter for 6 families
- Purchased apartment building on Chestnut Street to provide transitional housing for families
- Innovative Family to Family Foster Care Program started in Coatesville keeping kids in their community of origin
- Providing Foster Care for 45-50 children and specialized adoption services
- Foster Care and Adoption programs transitioned to Children’s Home of York. Our mission became focused on homelessness and housing instability.
- Aligned with Housing First National Model, premised on evidence that a family experiencing homelessness is more responsive to interventions and social service supports if they are housed safely first.
- The Emergency Family Shelter was moved to Chestnut Street, allowing the agency to serve diverse family compositions; single parent, two-parent, multi-generational and LGBTQ+ families, and to provide families with a way to continue a normal daily routine during the trauma of housing instability.
We continue to operate the only publicly funded, low barrier, Housing First Emergency Family Shelter in Chester County that keeps families together during one of the most difficult times of their lives.
Our Homelessness Prevention Programs combine targeted assistance and a collaborative approach that focuses on stable housing, financial independence and resilience.
At Friends, we believe that it starts with a home and we are committed to walk alongside every family as they take the first steps on that journey.
“Over 55% of cities report that families had to break up to enter emergency shelters.*
Reports and Financials
Friends Association promotes the independence of families by providing shelter, programs and services that prevent and end homelessness in Chester County.
Last year, Friends Association partnered with 103 families, supplied 7,655 nights of shelter and prevented homelessness for 81 families in Chester County.
Fiscal Year 2019 Impact Report (click to view)
Fiscal Year 2020 Audit (click to view)