Our Mission

Friends Association provides programs and services that prevent homelessness and promote the independence of families with children.

OUR MODEL

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. 

RACE EQUITY

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.

OUR STAFF

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.

    Jennifer Lopez

    Jennifer Lopez

    Chief Executive Officer

    j.lopez@friendsassoc.org

    610-431-3598 x222
    she/her

    Steffani Witmer

    Steffani Witmer

    Chief Operating Officer

    s.witmer@friendsassoc.org

    610-431-3598 x203
    she/her

    Emily McClure

    Emily McClure

    Chief Advancement Officer

    e.mcclure@friendsassoc.org

    610-431-3598 x204
    she/her

    Cory Lovera

    Cory Lovera

    Director of Programs

    c.lovera@friendsassoc.org

    610-431-3598 x206
    she/her

    Stephanie Washington

    Stephanie Washington

    ERAP Coordinator

    s.washington@friendsassoc.org

    610-431-3598 x209
    she/her

    Maria McDowell

    Maria McDowell

    Staff Attorney

    m.mcdowell@friendsassoc.org

    610-431-3598 x205

    Ava King

    Ava King

    Eviction Prevention Court Coordinator

    a.king@friendsassoc.org

    610-431-3598 x212
    she/her

    Karina Olivencia

    Karina Olivencia

    Director of Community Engagement

    k.olivencia@friendsassoc.org

    610-431-3598 x224
    she/her

    Daphne Gilliam Miller

    Daphne Gilliam Miller

    Family Center Manager

    d.gilliam@friendsassoc.org

    610-431-3598 x216
    she/her

    Vanessa Hunter

    Vanessa Hunter

    Interim Family Center Manager

    v.hunter@friendsassoc.org

    610-431-3598 x223
    she/her

    Aparna Padsalgikar

    Aparna Padsalgikar

    Community Navigator

    a.padsalgikar@friendsassoc.org

    610-431-3598 x219
    she/her

    Elgin Bailey

    Elgin Bailey

    Prevention Specialist

    e.bailey@friendsassoc.org

    610-431-3598 x225
    he/him

    Roune Betts

    Roune Betts

    Data Entry & Report Specialist

    r.betts@friendsassoc.org

    610-431-3598 x223
    she/her

    Nydea Graves

    Nydea Graves

    ERAP Processor

    n.graves@friendsassoc.org

    610-431-3598 x208
    they/she

    Yulanda Myers

    Yulanda Myers

    Peer Specialist

    y.myers@friendsassoc.org

    610-431-3598
    she/her

    Angela Linden

    Angela Linden

    LCSW & Program Support

    a.linden@friendsassoc.org

    610-431-3598
    she/her

    OUR BOARD

    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.

      Barbara Diorio

      Barbara Diorio

      President


      Dentist

      Yolanda Van de Krol

      Yolanda Van de Krol

      Vice President


      Clerk of Courts
      Chester County

      Matt Holliday

      Matt Holliday

      Immediate Past President


      Executive Director
      Chester County Bar Association

      Lee Bohs

      Lee Bohs

      Treasurer


      President
      WC Growth Advisors, LLC

      Joseph Keefer

      Joseph Keefer

      Secretary


      Executive VP
      Univest Bank & Trust

      Amanda Barton

      Amanda Barton

      Board Member


      Co-Founder
      Barton South Communications

      Brian Boreman

      Brian Boreman

      Board Member


      Attorney
      Unruh, Turner, Burke & Frees

      Rev. Caroline Cupp

      Rev. Caroline Cupp

      Board Member


      Executive Pastor
      First Presbyterian
      Church of West Chester

      Michael Hazley

      Michael Hazley

      Board Member


      President
      Hazley Builders

      Jeffrey Garrett

      Jeffrey Garrett

      Board Member


      District Operation Supervisor
      Sears/Transformco

      Steve E. Jarmon

      Steve E. Jarmon

      Board Member


      Attorney
      Lamb, McErlane, PC

      Leslie B. Lavender

      Leslie B. Lavender

      Board Member


      Senior Relationship Manager
      Citizens Bank, NA

      Rebecca Louick

      Rebecca Louick

      Board Member


      School Counselor

      William McGrath

      William McGrath

      Board Member


      EVP, Chief Credit Officer
      Centric Bank

      Frank Monterosso

      Frank Monterosso

      Board Member


      Corporate Counsel
      United BioSource LLC

      Stephen Nicolai

      Stephen Nicolai

      Board Member


      Attorney
      Hogan Lovells US

      Troy Vogt

      Troy Vogt

      Board Member


      Certified Financial Planner
      Market Street Wealth

      OUR HISTORY

      ‘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.

      1822:

      • 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

      1915:

      • Moved to Cheyney, Pennsylvania, and focused on providing education, training, mental health support, and most importantly, a home for girls and young women

      1974-1984:

      • 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

      1985-2010:

      • 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

      2010:

      • 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.

      Today:

      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 walking 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.*

       

      * US Conference of Mayors, 2010

      2022 marks the 200th Anniversary of Friends Association providing Chester County individuals and families experiencing homelessness with opportunities to build family well-being.

      REPORTS AND FINANCIALS

      ANNUAL REPORTS

      View Our 2020-2021 Annual Report

      View Our 2019-2020 Annual Report

      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 provided services to 840 of our neighbors (283 families) throughout our four pillars of support.

      Fiscal Year 2019 Impact Report (click to view)

      Fiscal Year 2020 Audit (click to view)