We’re not perfect. We are not rich. We’re not remarkable. We don’t have a giant home. We don’t even have a guest room. We don’t have a van. But we do know that when there is a need, God will provide. We might just have a couple of loaves and fish, but when we put what little we have in God’s hands, he multiplies it. That is why we’re involved and that is why we give what we can to Safe Families to help God feed the thousands.
Suzanne and Dan Schlattman have been a Host Family since 2011. Suzanne serves on our leadership team. They have opened their small home by recognizing that God has given them BIG hearts. We recently asked Suzanne some key questions about their involvement above and beyond being a host home. Here are some of her answers:
How long have you been involved with Safe Families for Children?
Our family first got involved about 6 years ago when we expressed interest in becoming a Host Family. We were feeling so incredibly blessed. God has been so good to us, with our families our marriage and now our kids! And we weren’t sure what to do with all of these blessings. Our cup was running over. Safe Families gave us a chance to share those blessings of love and time with families that really needed it. Ones that maybe haven’t been so fortunate.
It’s been an incredible experience to see God at work in our lives and in the lives of the families we met through the program. We saw our blessings through new eyes, through the eyes of these kids. It’s funny, because we almost didn’t do the program because we thought our house was too small to host kids. Then when the first kids came to stay with us, the very first thing they said was, “THIS PLACE IS SO BIG!” And I just laughed at myself. God can use EVERYTHING, ANYTHING, if you open it up to him. No gift is too small, no home is too small if your heart is open to the great things God can do with it.
What inspired your first financial gift?
I guess it was kind of by accident. We had started by volunteering and thought that that was how we were supporting the program. Then one day I realized that we hadn’t been making a financial contribution. And that is SO important. I mean, as a Host Family, we can open our homes, but if this program doesn’t have the great staff and other resources they need for these families, the connections won’t happen. People won’t know about this great program and chances are, if someone does find out about it–either to volunteer or to use the services–it will be harder for the families to reach whatever goal they set at the beginning of the placement. So we contribute financially as well and it feels so great to know that that gift is being used to help strengthen families and bring them closer to Christ when they’re going through a tough time.
Why do you continue to give?
We continue to give because we love the program, we love being a part of it and we want to see it grow. I want families that are going through a tough time to know about it and know we’re here to support them. I also want families, like mine, to know about it and be transformed. Christ works in our lives when we open our homes and our families up to serve this way–it completely changes your world view and makes your faith stronger. You’re more confident that the Lord WILL provide, because you see it. You live it. Pope Francis talks alot about accompanying people wherever they are and how Christ is with us every step of our way. God gives abundant grace for all he requires. That’s all well and good to say, but it can be hard to figure out how to operationalize or fit that into a family’s busy schedule.
Safe Families makes it possible. It makes miracles happen and it’s so exciting (and addictive!) to being part of so many families’ success stories. We stopped by a home of someone whose daughter stayed with us awhile ago. She was talking with me about work and how she’s no longer considered “low income.” That has its own challenges, but my gosh! How many times do you get to see that hard work and growth from someone who had everything stacked against her and is now doing well? She’s providing for her family and experiencing the everyday joys and trials of the middle class. That is why I continue to give.
Why does it matter to you personally? My grandfather, Howard Rees of Calvary Baptist Church in DC, had a saying that “Whatever the question, the answer is love.” I tease my husband that my twist on that is, “Whatever the question, the answer is Safe Families.” There are so many times when we’re in church listening to the homily and whatever is being preached–I lean over and whisper–“he’s talking about Safe Families!” I’m a HUGE evangelist for this program because of what it has done for me and for my family and for all of those people who have become a part of my family through this program. Mother Teresa once said, “The problem with the world today is that we draw our circle of family too small.” I grew up in a small town where I very much felt the love of my community and I am who I am today because of all of the love so many individuals poured into me. Those same people taught me the importance of passing that on and pouring into others. Safe Families has allowed me to do that–to meet people I never otherwise would have met, to invite them in to our family, share the love and grace that has first been so generously showered on me and watch it transform the kids, the situation, the parents, and us. It’s an absolutely incredible, humbling experience.