Q&A with HSI Supporter Kate Garzón

Kate Garzon Headshot 4 Cropped (1)

February is National Parent Leadership Month, and the perfect opportunity to recognize HSI supporter Kate Garzón.

Kate is the founder and CEO of Guided Parenting Support – GPS® and is a parenting educator and coach. She helps guide parents to help solve frustrating behaviors and support their kids’ healthy development using realistic strategies. For the past year, Kate has been leading workshops for the parents in our programs as a way for them to face the challenges of parenthood while coping with the trauma of homelessness.

In addition to her work at the shelter, Kate has also been an integral part of our Dream Builders’ Bash Committee this year. If you’ve met Kate, you know what a caring, kind, bubbly force of nature she is! Thank you, Kate for all that you do to support HSI’s mission!

We were delighted that she wanted to answer a few questions about her amazing work with us! Read on…

Q: How did you first learn about HSI?

KG: My husband and I discovered HSI in 2021, when we were looking to support local organizations doing impactful work in the community. The more we learned about the wonderful programs and services offered, the more involved we became.

Q: What are you teaching the parents at the shelter in your classes? Why are these classes so important?

KG: My biggest goal for these classes is to ensure that every parent feels safe, seen, and heard; in a trauma-informed atmosphere; free from blame and shame. From that place of safety, they share with me their biggest parenting challenges/worries/fears/goals, and I create a curriculum that’s customized to their needs.

The main focuses are:

a) How to build strong, stable, respectful relationships with their children and understanding why those relationships are so crucial for healthy development and long term success

b) Learning enough about child/human development to be able recognize why their children and teens are behaving in certain ways, and why it can be so hard to keep our cool as adults in the face of frustrating behaviors

c) Guiding them to build their parenting skills in practical ways that they can begin implementing immediately, that are manageable while living in a shelter environment, and that will set them and their children up for long term healthy, successful lives.

Q: Has there been a moment or experience while teaching at the shelter that has been particularly meaningful to you?

KG: Too many to count! There’s the moment during the first class of each cohort when reluctant participants begin to get interested…they sit up straighter, put their phones away, and start nodding, laughing, or speaking up even though they had planned to sit there and barely tolerate the 90 minutes. There’s the moment when they start showing up early for class, because they thought of a question they wanted to ask from the week before. There’s the moment when they start to understand how much power they have to shape their children’s lives, that they can accept responsibility without shame, and they can make changes without feeling like they were doing it “wrong” before. And then there’s the moment when parents start to use what they’re learning to answer each other’s questions in the workshops…because they’re getting comfortable with doing things differently, and learning to apply it in their lives. And that’s just a small sample 🙂

Q: When you speak to people about your work with Homeless Solutions, what do you tell them to inspire them to get engaged?

KG: I usually don’t have to say anything at all, because everyone in Morris County has already heard of HSI and its incredible work. We aren’t from here originally, which is why it took us until 2021 to show up and support! If I happen to come across the uninitiated, I tell them about the incredible variety of services that meet guests where they’re at, and provide respectful and dignified care and programs to truly give a hand up.

To learn more about Kate and GPS®, click here: