The Family Promise Good Neighbor Award highlights Family Promise Affiliate staff members who are doing exceptional work in their communities.
Adam Monaghan started at Family Promise of Greater Wichita (KS) five years ago as an administrative specialist, focusing on creating organizational and administrative infrastructure for the then-new Affiliate. In 2019, he moved to Minnesota and took on a new position with Family Promise in Anoka County (MN) but decided to keep a part-time remote role with Family Promise of Greater Wichita (FPGW). That decision has been more impactful than he’d ever imagined.
As a Spanish-speaking staff member at FPGW, Monaghan occasionally assisted with phone screens or recommended resources to Spanish-speaking families. But one specific phone call back in April 2022 was unlike any he’d received before. It was from an asylum-seeking family from Venezuela – which means they had fled their home country because of political violence and feared that their lives would be threatened if they returned.
“They were not just seeking to resolve a traditional housing insecurity crisis,” Monaghan said. “They needed much more comprehensive support as new arrivals to our country. They were seeking prevention assistance to stay housed but also had the desire to learn how to navigate the whole system of applying for asylum.”
Monaghan began learning more about the asylum system and immigration in the US and even participated in extensive training with the International Association for Refugees. Throughout this process, Monaghan noticed there were many services across the U.S. for refugees who come through the traditional refugee settlement program, but there are very few to help asylum seekers.
“This is likely because they are in such a difficult situation where they are legally in the U.S. but are starting with nothing while trying to provide for themselves and their families,” he said. “Family Promise has been able to fill a gap through our prevention program, ensuring that a family is able to stay safely, stably housed while adjusting to a new community.”
The Affiliate’s community has seen an uptick in asylum-seeking families from Venezuela. According to Monaghan, these families likely fled to Wichita because of the reasonable cost of living compared to the rest of the U.S. The FPGW team has now worked with about 15 families facing this unique situation, with Monaghan taking the lead on their cases.
FPGW supports these families with case management, rental assistance, and other avenues of support, connecting them to food and educational resources, as well as other community health resources. But Monaghan states that due to their unique situations, one of the greatest needs to be addressed is trauma healing.
“The trauma these families went through to get here is different,” he said. “They literally walked across Central America. We just want to see these families have access to paths of healing.”
FPGW is seeking to partner with other community organizations to address trauma healing for asylum seekers. Monaghan believes there will be an uptick of displaced families facing housing insecurity and seeking services at Family Promise Affiliates nationwide.
“Family Promise of Greater Wichita’s vision is a stable home and a bright future for every child in our community,” he emphasized. “When a family comes to us, there are paradigms of the causes of family homelessness and housing insecurity that we abide by, and international displacement had not been previously on our list. These families have expanded our awareness to a whole new cause of housing insecurity.”
Monaghan’s efforts in taking the lead on assisting these families and taking the initiative to learn about the challenges that these asylum-seeking families are facing are why he is this month’s Good Neighbor Award recipient.