Published June 3, 2013

DFS Transitional supportive housing_n


Decatur Family Sanctuary provides shelter for homeless families with attentiveness to the greater needs of Decatur’s homeless community.


Decatur Family Sanctuary (DFS), is the only family shelter in Decatur, and has for 2-years provided emergency family shelter, a safe “home” for 5-families at any given time. The DFS transition house is for moving a “ready-to-succeed” family into a DFS safe house whereby the parenting and budgetary skills learned, internalized and assimilated are put into “real-life” family practice, i.e. rent, utility, water, cable, insurance, grocery, medical, gas, monthly bus passes or car payment, clothing, school, work essentials needed, etal. It is during this 3-month period that the family living scenario is realistically practiced prior to transitioning into the permanent supportive housing arrangement with another family appropriate pre-arranged Decatur housing  agency.


1. Geographic area served : Decatur & Macon County, Illinois: Decatur Family Sanctuary accepts the referred Macon County established residency family when a vacancy exists. DFS is about meeting Macon County’s homeless family(s)’ emergency shelter needs.

2. Actual # of people served last year : Since opening September 2011, 33-referred families have transitioned through Decatur Family Sanctuary (DFS). Of these 33-families, 22-families are maintaining self-sufficiency. NOTE: DFS only accepts those families which are Decatur and/or Macon County established residents. Referrals are received from the hospitals, police, concerned about an employee as well as the other 4-shelters in Decatur (2-men shelters: Salvation Army & Water Street Mission and 2-women shelters: Grace House & God’s Shelter of Love) which do not take families.

3. Anticipated # of people to be served this year : Presently 53 families are on a waiting list. However, it is believed during a year, realistically,  20-families will be assisted and transitioned positively into self-sufficiency living situations within a calendar year.

Decatur Family Refuge (DFR) came into being as a direct result of a 2008 Poverty Summit. This was attended by over 300 persons of many different denominations and located within the greater Decatur area. For over 10-years, the issue of family homelessness had been addressed by the Decatur Continuum of Care Homeless Council. This identified homeless family void in the local homeless support system had been continually brought to the forefront.

Following the Poverty Summit, a committee was formed and a plan developed. In 2010, a board of directors was formed, 501c3 status papers were filed, and a building was purchased and renovated. The building was ready for occupancy  on Tuesday, September 20, 2010 and our first homeless family moved into the emergency family shelter. The long anticipated dream came into fruition.

The decision to change the name came about because many persons were reading the name as “refugee” not “refuge”. The new name (Decatur Family Sanctuary) was announced on November 20, 2012 at the “mortgage burning” event.

Decatur Family Sanctuary (DFS) is the only family emergency shelter in Decatur and Macon County. The definition of family is custodial adult(s) with child(ren). The DFS motto is: “…a door for families with no door…” All types of families/make-up of families can now have a place to call home. DFS is the only shelter in Decatur which accepts referred single dads with child(ren), a grandmother with child(ren), a brother/sister with siblings, dad & mom with child(ren), etal. DFS is the only Decatur emergency shelter accepting children over the age of 12-years. To date, DFS has provided emergency family shelter for every “family” demographic listed above.

The DFS’s continued vision focus is to perform a vital service by providing a facility and supportive program to meet the homeless families and their respective situational needs quandary. Therefore, the DFS mission actively continues to provide shelter for homeless families with attentiveness to the greater needs of the local homeless community. DFS, in consultation with the family, establishes their “family specific” program goals. This individualized family program focus further empowers the family to better monitor their individual and collective progress. As long as the individuals within the family and the family collectively are making positive progress, DFS residency continues until such time whereby the family has accomplished all specific program variable goals and is ready to transition into selfsufficiency, thus becoming a productive member of the community.

DFS is the only “family shelter” within Decatur. The length of stay for a family is totally dependent upon specific situational needs. The most common family program completion shelter residency duration time is 3-months/90-days. However, some families have required less and some more DFS residency shelter-time. Due to being “survival stress” free some families are adamant about using this shelter opportunity to “get it right” and are committed to never being in a homeless situation again.

Every family is assessed, both individually and as a family, goals established and a plan of action designed. Families are expected to work their respective shelter plan, both as an individual and as a collective family, which focus’ serious attention to spiritual, cognitive, affective, mental and psychomotor domains. The “whole” person’s, the “whole” family’s “whole” health is paramount in assisting the family to move toward a new beginning thus allowing them to function as productive members of society. The family unit remains intact and progresses according to each family’s unique demographic and situation. This holistic approach has served to assist the respective individual and family comprehend the significance of all components making-up, contributing to the person’s identification/family’s identification assimilation and societal functioning ability, practice and daily living execution.

DFS supportive services are the key variables to assisting the family make family friendly choices. The DFS staff are also partnering with other churches, community college, schools, social service agencies, supportive housing providers (Homeward Bound, Decatur Housing Authority, Wabash Crossing and Coalition of Veterans’ Concerns) trades unions’ respective training programs, and university entities within the greater Decatur community to assist the facilitation of the family’s success, i.e. permanent housing, employment, financially debt free, etal. Decatur

Family Sanctuary is about helping to insure this particular situation, i.e. family homelessness, is not a repeat experience and becomes a vague memory, never, never to be repeated by this family and/or any of the respective family members.


What Decatur Family Sanctuary attempts to demonstrate to all who enter and reside in the shelter is a warm caring home environment where Christ is daily thanked for all the blessings bestowed upon the shelter and everyone currently residing. DFS wants the homeless family(s) to understand the difference between a house/apartment and a home. Equipping each family with the skills, knowledge and practical strategies to insure a successful self-sufficient family has internalized and assimilated a family and individual life model whereby homelessness does not ever exist in the future plan(s) of every family member. Life is tough, but life is manageable when Christ has entered the heart. Everyone is strongly encouraged to confess to, accept and have a personal relationship with Christ. The door whereby everyone enters the shelter’s dining
area has the inscription “Jesus loves you”. This multiple daily reminder sends the visual and subliminal message impression keeping Christ as Alpha and Omega in one’s life.

How will this project further the Kingdom of God? Decatur Family Sanctuary is making a difference within the Decatur community. Everyone who enters DFS quickly learns DFS is a faith based emergency family shelter which daily “walks-the-talk”. Lives have been touched by the openness of and the communication by the DFS staff giving Christ the credit for this emergency shelter and for all He provides daily. The DFS staff’s openness has bridged the families’ willingness to have discussion, ask for an individual Bible to have as their own, attend church, read the Bible, attend Bible studies, watch Christian movies and most importantly accept Christ as Lord and Savior. Families have come to realize that with Christ anything is possible Both adults and children have seen Christ answer prayer for themselves and others residing at Decatur Family Sanctuary.
Since September 2011, Decatur Family Sanctuary has maneuvered around the boulders placed in our path. Decatur Family Sanctuary is about loving God with all our heart, mind, body and strength and loving your neighbor as thyself.

Luke 10 tells the story of the Good Samaritan. Daily, DFS provides a sanctuary for those abandoned, ignored homeless families within the Decatur-Macon County area. Tending to the respective family’s situational wounds requires the
assistance of other social service agency partnerships. The shunned and invisible now have a place where dignity and self-worth are validated daily. Matthew 25 tells the story of the separation of the sheep and goats: Decatur Family Sanctuary provides food, drink, clothing, a place to rest, a place to heal, a place to witness God working in lives. DFS continually affirms the “sheep” perspective. DFS daily reiterates Jeremiah 29:11 as a message of God’s vision for families to cling: “…for I know the plans I have for you, plans to give you peace, plans for a future and hope.”

Decatur Family Sanctuary also accepts the charge given in Matthew 28:19: “…Go therefore into all the world, teach and preach the good news and make disciples for Jesus Christ.” All families attend church on Sundays and Bible study on Wednesday nights. Wednesday night Bible study is led by a different church every month. Decatur Family Sanctuary consciously asks the question: How do I know the person entering is not Jesus?



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