In 1992, Cheryl Honey gathered a group of neighbors together at a local elementary school and created a way for people to connect, share resources and care about one another. They gathered weekly and learned about topics and issues impacting their lives and community. The families helped each other out, organized social and recreational activities, volunteered at local agencies and spearheaded community improvement initiatives. Over time they felt like an extended family and referred to this phenomenon as a “village effect.”
In 1993, the group formed the Family Support Network, a nonprofit organization, and began recruiting Good Neighbor volunteers and training Family Advocates who provided one on one peer support to those needing assistance. The capacity of the FSN grew as more volunteers pooled their resources on web-based technology, developed by Max Stalnaker, a VolunteerMatch volunteer. This technology gave people immediate access to resources to help themselves and others.
Ms. Honey has volunteered for over a decade and has moved from a Welfare Mother to Pioneer of Community Weaving, a volunteer mobilization strategy that engages citizens to take responsibility for what they care about and spark village effects in communities. The Seattle Times featured Ms. Honey’s effort on two front page stories. The first ran on March 2, 1996, entitled, “A substitution for welfare? Volunteer help a better way?” and the second, “Bothell volunteer grew her group into 800 pairs of helping hands,” ran on February 8, 1997. Two years later, the Lifetime channel featured the Family Support Network on the New Attitudes program that brought national attention to this extraordinary community building effort.
From its inception, the Family Support Network has been supported through private donations. Ms. Honey trains Community Weavers how to start-up Family Support Networks in churches, schools, organizations and businesses. Community Weaving is featured in the Change Handbook, 2nd Edition. Ms. Honey continues to volunteer in her community and has devoted her life to helping others create their own Family Support Networks.
If you would like additional information about the organization, please contact Cheryl Honey, C.P.P. Ambassador for Peace at 206.240.2241, [email protected], www.familynetwork.org or www.communityweaving.org.