Robin Tomechko, Harford Family House
All in the Family
By Lisa Baldino
Feb 02, 2018
Two years ago, Robin Tomechko didn’t think homelessness was an issue in Harford County. Today, she is working tirelessly to communicate the prevalence of the problem and provide solutions for the 165 homeless families on the waiting list with Harford Community Action Agency. Tomechko leads Harford Family House, which provides transitional housing and support for homeless families with children.
Tomechko says when she met former Executive Director Joyce Duffy, who was about to retire in April 2016, “I fell in love with Harford Family House. I immediately saw the fit and believed in what the organization was trying to do.” Tomechko was a 30-year employee for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Baltimore, where she held the position of CEO for 16 years.
Harford Family House
February 22, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
March 7, 7:30-9:30 a.m.
June 7, 5-8 p.m.
“Homelessness is a timely and current issue, and there is a growing need for services,” she explains. “Harford Family House has a model that works. We are the only organization that will keep a homeless family intact and find housing for them all together.” She notes that the family units are getting bigger, leading to a need for larger units of housing to accommodate these families. The organization is currently working with a family with six children and two parents. Harford Family House served 43 families in 2017, with the highest success rate ever – 90 percent of those families graduated to their own homes.
Families are set up in temporary housing in apartments and single-family dwellings in Aberdeen. The furnishings and necessary household items are donated by the community. “The first requirement is that in the first month, at least one parent has to have a job. We help them to find the job and we will even provide transportation,” she says.
Tomechko has been re-energizing the organization through awareness campaigns on social media and grassroots outreach, innovative fundraisers, development of a strategic plan, recruitment of new board members, and empowerment of her staff. She says her biggest challenge is fundraising. “We can’t rest on our laurels,” she says. “We have to keep thinking about the 165 families who still need housing and support. We want to increase our available housing by 20 percent. In order to do this, we need significant financial resources.” Tomechko says that’s a goal of five more properties by June 30, 2018. Her leadership style of empowerment and responsibility has built a confident team of 11 people who support Harford Family House in various roles, from administrative to case management. “Empowerment makes the organization stronger,” says Tomechko.
Board members of Harford Family House include representatives from each of the areas necessary for success for the organization’s goals: bankers, lawyers, real estate brokers, employment specialists and more. “We’re fostering relationships with businesses and the community. We still need a faith leader and a construction person to round out the board,” she says. In addition, the team has put together a series of presentations and ongoing open houses that invite various sectors of the community to come and experience Harford Family House. Targeting non-profits, church groups, financial groups and service groups, these events offer an overview and tour and ways to help the organization – donating money, supplies, time or talent. Tomechko says it’s been eye-opening for the community and has also extended the reach of the organization’s appeal.
Expanding the Leadership Giving Society through leadership breakfasts is also a brainchild of Tomechko’s. Recognizing donors of $1,000 or more, the Society’s mission is to help develop much-needed financial resources.
Harford Family House not only provides housing and needed material items, it also provides encouragement. Tomechko created the “Family of Promise Award” to recognize families who are really proving themselves and going for their goals – whether it be jobs, education or living arrangements. “It’s very rewarding when I see a child with a mentor who has made good decisions or a successful single mother who has gone after her dreams,” says Tomechko. Most recently, Tomechko was inspired by a mother who was pursuing her chef’s credentials with the encouragement of the Harford Family House team.
Tomechko herself enjoys cooking in her spare time, as well as reading and spending time at the beach. Her own family includes her husband and two grown sons, ages 28 and 26.
I95 Content Marketing