Families Forward is an Irvine-based nonprofit organization founded in 1984 by a group of dedicated community members in collaboration with the City of Irvine and the Irvine Company, who shared the same vision of providing housing for families in crisis. The agency began with only five apartment units and one part-time counselor. Families Forward quickly grew in response to the community need and now has twenty-eight transitional housing units as well as a comprehensive array of services to prevent homelessness.
In FY2009-10, Families Forward served over 7,000 people through its various programs. Some accomplishments include:
- 172 families avoided homelessness through the homeless prevention program
- 33,834 bags of food were distributed through the food pantry
- 250 parents received career assistance
-1,032 children received school supplies
Families Forward is well known and well respected in the Orange County community for its quality services provided to thousands of families each year. In 2005, the agency was recognized by United Way with the "Striving Towards Excellence" award.
The agency has been recognized by the Irvine City Council, and the Orange County Register, and has also received the Disneyland Community Service Award. Executive Director Margie Wakeham was selected by Orange County Metro as one of "10 Women Making A Difference" in 2000, and in 2002 was honored by Concordia University with the Servant Leadership Award. In 2002, Families Forward was invited to the White House in Washington, D.C. by the National Interagency Council on Homelessness to participate in a focus group with other homeless agencies to share ideas and solutions for ending homelessness. This was an extraordinary honor since only eight agencies were across the country were selected out of the thousands that serve the homeless population.