Mission: Compass Family Services serves families confronting poverty and homelessness by supporting their efforts to achieve stability and self-sufficiency.
Results: Compass Family Services, known until 1995 as Travelers Aid San Francisco, was established in 1914 to provide assistance to newcomers to the city, particularly young women and girls drawn by the Panama-Pacific International Exposition (1915). Since that time, Compass has served a wide range of populations from stranded travelers to refugees to homeless families, but a common denominator among the various groups has been a need for help in an often unfriendly urban environment.
Target demographics: Low-income and homeless families
Geographic areas served: San Francisco, CA
Programs: Compass Family Services creates a strong safety net for homeless and at-risk families by providing a broad continuum of services that help our clients find and maintain stable housing and build strong families. Compass' six programs for families are:
Compass Connecting Point – The citywide access center for all families seeking shelter in San Francisco.
Compass Family Shelter – A homeless shelter for families with private rooms and baths, plus prevention and aftercare services.
Compass SF HOME - Compass' homelessness prevention program that provides qualifying families with short term rental subsidies and support.
Compass Family Resource Center - A family resource center providing counseling and education to support healthy parent-child relationships.
Compass Clara House – A two-year transitional housing program with individual family apartments, plus intensive support services and on site childcare.
Compass Children's Center – Compass’ model child development and education center for children from homeless and very low-income families.
As a volunteer and now board member, I can attest to the determined and effective efforts of the Compass staff. Compass's strategy to help families who may become homeless, before they become homeless is essential to helping the working poor of San Francisco. It is telling that people assisted in this situation follow through in giving back to Compass. All of the programs offered interconnect to make Compass a strong antidote to the cycle of poverty. Examples are: Teachers at the Tenderloin childcare center use state of the art methods to help children in difficult situation; including occupational therapy. Families struggling with addiction issues are assisted in comprehensive and holistic manner to get their lives on track. It is difficult to cover all of the beneficial elements of Compass's umbrella offers in a short format.
Compass is a well-run, efficient, and effective organization with a loyal staff (many of whom have been with the agency over ten years--unheard of in social services). It treats its clients with respect and dignity, and goes above and beyond to help them avoid homelessness or gain permanent housing, while addressing their core needs. I have been on the board of directors for about 20 years and at one point when I thought I would look into getting involved in another nonprofit, I couldn't find one that does its job as well as Compass, so I stayed on!