About Our Chapter
Safe Families for Children Charlotte started in 2017 and is growing throughout the Greater Charlotte area. We are committed to serving families who are in crisis and socially isolated with the gospel in both word and deed. Our heart is to engage the local church in family preservation through Biblical hospitality. Our main objectives are: family support/stabilization, preventing abuse and neglect, and deflecting children from unnecessarily entering the foster care system.
Our aim is to resource and equip local churches to be at the forefront of loving and serving vulnerable children and families. Parents in need ask Safe Families to host their children in the safety of the host home, while parents handle their crisis situation. The SFFC team – host family, family friends, family coaches, resource families – reaches out to the placing parents to provide a circle of supportive, caring community.
Safe Families for Children would not exist without the hard work and dedication of our volunteer families. Host families graciously open their homes temporarily to children whose parents are going through a difficult time. Host families and placing families are supported by volunteers who provide help such as transportation, respite, meals, resource donations, mentoring, and employment assistance. Our volunteer family coaches monitor the care of a child while he or she is in a host home and support parents in getting back on their feet.
The backbone of the Safe Families movement is the Church. Local churches recruit volunteers and support their congregations to serve and reach out to parents who are in a crisis situation. Churches of various sizes and denominational or non-denominational backgrounds are active partners with Safe Families for Children Charlotte.
Although our amazing volunteers are the ones who take the movement of Safe Families for Children into the community, they are supported by our staff. Our staff passionately invest their lives engaging churches, building the base of volunteers, vetting and training volunteers, completing intake of families in need, creating hosting arrangements, supervising Family Coaches, and so much more.
Emily Kemmann, Chapter Director
Emily mobilizes, leads, and supports the SFFC Greater Charlotte team.
Emily has been with Safe Families Charlotte since 2016, serving first to catalyze and launch the Charlotte chapter, engage churches, and supervise volunteers, to now serve as Chapter Director. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Christian Counseling from Liberty University, and a Master of Social Work degree from UNCC.
Her past experience includes working with children with severe mental health diagnoses at a psychiatric residential treatment facility, advocating in the court system for neglected and abused children, and providing case management services for families enrolled in the Head Start program.
Emily has a passion for mobilizing the Church to love vulnerable families in the Charlotte-Metro area. She wants the Church in Charlotte to have a transformational relationship with Jesus Christ that is evident in how they love their socially isolated neighbors and "do life" together with them.
Emily finds joy in seeing someone begin to hope again, forming relationship bridges that cross social and cultural barriers, hearing little children belly-laughs, each moment spent with her husband, coffee, dark chocolate, and wilderness hikes.
Min Lee, Family Coach Supervisor/Community Engagement
Min supports, supervises, and equips Safe Families Family Coaches. Min also builds up church Ministry Leads and community relationships.
Min brings a strong background in serving children and families from hard places to the team. Min holds a Master of Arts in Human Services, Family and Marriage from Liberty University. She holds professional certifications in TBRI (Trust Based Relational Intervention) and Christian Life Coaching.
Her professional experience includes counseling and empowering women and children in crisis, training/coaching adoptive families using trauma-informed and attachment-based practices, motivational public speaking and managing direct marketing in an international nonprofit organization.
Min grew up in NYC in an immigrant family and has experienced firsthand what it means to be socially isolated and vulnerable, which has been her source of motivation for serving families from hard places. Min and her husband have four grown children and enjoys learning about other cultures and traveling to new places.
Eileen Miles, Program Administrator: Intake, Home Screening, and Resource Specialist
Eileen connects families in need to SFFC volunteers, completes home screenings with prospective volunteers, and drives resource development
Eileen grew up with three sisters in Indiana, and is now married and the mother of three children. Family relationships have always been very special to her, and she has brought her heart for families in need to Safe Families Charlotte.
Eileen has a background working with at-risk parents, with immigrants, and advocating in court for children in the foster care system. Additionally, Eileen has a degree in Spanish and has a passion for serving the hispanic community here in Charlotte. Some of her other interests include reading, travel, exercise and experiencing new cultures. Eileen loves to see how God can mobilize His people to make a difference in the lives of families in Charlotte.
Mary Kay Portaro, Volunteer Coordinator
Mary Kay guides prospective volunteers through the approval process from application until they join the SFFC Charlotte volunteer family!
Mary Kay is excited to be a part of Safe Families in Charlotte. She is married and the mother of three children. Her family serves as a Host Family, as well as Mary Kay serving as Ministry Lead for Safe Families at Life Fellowship Church. Mary Kay considers caring for children they have hosted as a blessing to her own family that really showed them first-hand how to love with grace!
Mary Kay graduated from Baldwin Wallace College in Ohio with a BA in Marketing. She currently enjoys staying home and caring for her 3 very active children ages 10, 11, and 12. Some of her interests include cooking, traveling, reading, tennis and lazy days spent on Lake Norman.
“When you have opened your hearts and allowed God to work through you, you are blessed to be part of the story of a family that is reunited through Safe Families."
Bekah Behnke, Home Screener
Bekah visits prospective host family homes to get to know the family and ensure host homes are safe, caring places.
Bekah has worked in the area of child advocacy and adoption for over 15 years in both Georgia and North Carolina. This has included pre-placement home studies and assessments, post-placement reports and support, and also counseling with birth families considering their options.
"What draws me to Safe Families is the way it involves the church in providing compassion, hospitality and support to the entire family, not just the children. It just makes sense in answering the Lord's command to love and care for others and in striving to keep families together."