Ben Salem United Church of Christ
Our mission is to help homeless and low-income families achieve sustainable independence. We recognize that poverty is a multifaceted problem that requires a multifaceted response. We respond by integrating educational outreach, smart programming, effective policies, and the hands-on work of thousands of volunteers. We provide food, shelter, and support services for homeless families. We provide advice and advocacy for at-risk families to prevent their becoming homeless. And we educate people about poverty and the means to combat it.
Family Promise: An Introduction To An Interfaith Hospitality Network
We are just one of many, many Family Promise Networks across the Nation. We are also called an Interfaith Hospitality Network or IHN. This video will show you what we are about. [email protected]
Family Promise is a nonprofit 501(C)(3), non-denominational organization for families in transition. There are over 176 Networks in 39 states. There are over 5000 congregations and 120,000 volunteers making up these Networks. Additionally there are 53 more Networks developing.
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Family Promise of Carbon County PA
The Family Promise Network Program brings shelter, meals, and support services to families without homes. Family Promise Networks are a cost-efficient, effective, and replicable community response to family homelessness. Because they make use of existing community resources, they can be implemented quickly, without major start-up costs.
There are six basic components to a Network Program.
1. Host/Support Congregations: The hosting of families rotates weekly among the Host Congregations in the Network. In turn, each host congregation provides lodging, three meals a day, and caring hospitality 3-4 times a year. The Support Congregations provide much needed volunteers, supplies, and finances when needed.
2. Day Center: Guests use a local Day Center from 7:30 AM to 5:00 PM, where the Family Promise Network Director, a professional social worker, provides case management services. There, guests pursue employment, tend to pre-school children, shower, and do laundry. The day center provides guests with a mailing address and a base for housing and employment searches. Many guests are employed during the day, while older children attend school.
3. Transportation: The Family Promise Network van transports guests to and from the Day Center. The Network also uses a truck to carry bedding and luggage to the next Host Congregation. The truck is also used to collect any donations made to the Network.
4. Fundraising: The organization is financed through donations, grants and fundraising.
5. Social Service Agencies: Local social service agencies refer families to the Network and may also help guests find or provide housing, jobs, and other needed services.
6. Volunteers: Volunteers are essential to our success and provide a wide range of services like cooking and serving meals, playing with children or helping them with homework, interacting with guests with respect and compassion, and providing overnight security. The Network depends on its success through its volunteers.
TYPICAL HOST WEEK
During the week there are approximately 50 slots for volunteers. Some congregations have a different member for each slot; others have volunteers take on multiple roles. Volunteers come from the host and support congregations and are assigned duties by the Volunteer Coordinators --members of the host congregation who oversee the week.
A Network truck or van arrives in the afternoon with cots and the families' personal belongings to be set up in a designated space.
Guest families arrive at Host congregation Sunday evening. The rooms for the families and the common area have been set up prior to the arrival.
EACH NIGHT OF HOSTING:
- Families settle in, relax and meet the coordinator and evening volunteers. At 6:00 PM dinner is served family style. Guests and volunteers share the meal together. Families are responsible for their children and help with clean up and chores.
- After dinner, volunteers fellowship with families. Hosts and their families play games, help with homework, watch videos, or just talk.
- Food for lunch is available in the kitchen area and parents make sack lunches for their families for the following day.
- Adults turn in around 10 PM; children at appropriate earlier bedtimes. Wake up is around 6 AM. Two volunteers will spend the night at the congregation.
- Breakfast is served around 6:30 AM during the week; typically cereal and other convenient foods. The Network van picks the families up at 7 AM.
DURING THE DAY (Families are not at the congregation):
- The Drives takes guests to the Day Center. From there, children will go to school and the parents to their jobs. In the afternoon the reverse is done.
- If the parents do not have a job, they work with the Director at the Day center to seek employment, housing and other resources to help them regain their independence. The Day Center has bathrooms with showers and other necessities to prepare for the day.
- Everyone returns to the Host Congregation around 5:30 PM and the cycle repeats.
- On Saturday the families can sleep in and enjoy a hot breakfast (pancakes or bacon and eggs). Families go back to the Day Center and do what families typically do on weekends -- see friends and relatives, take children to activities, etc.
THE NEXT SUNDAY:
- On Sunday the families are packed up and out of the facilities prior to Sunday services. They are taken to the Day Center for the day until it is time to move on to the next congregation. Families that want to attend services will usually do so at their own congregations; some may choose to worship at a host congregation.
...........and the next host congregation begins its week.
"How Can I Help" Talking with Guests and Volunteers.
Did you know that one out of every four people who are homeless is a child? Or, that families with children make up nearly 40% of the people in this country who are homeless? Family homelessness is a national problem. The week of October 22-29, 2017 is Family Promise Week. Our local Affiliate, Family Promise of Carbon County, is one of 206 programs across the country uniting the faith community to help children and their families who are homeless. Family Promise Week will raise awareness about the issue, as well as celebrate the service of our congregation and others to serve our brothers and sisters in need. You can participate in Family Promise Week by signing up to volunteer, telling others about Family Promise, or visiting www.familypromisecarboncounty.org to learn more.
Family Promise was founded in Summit, NJ, in 1988 on the belief that people are compassionate and want to
make a difference. Family Promise has grown into a national non-profit organization, mobilizing communities
and existing resources to help homeless families regain their independence.
The issue of family homelessness has never been more critical. Last year, there were 3.5 million homeless people
in the United States. Sixty-four percent of U.S. cities turned away homeless families with children because there
was a lack of bed space.
Homeless families now comprise nearly 40% of the homeless population.
One out of every 30 American children will experience homelessness this year.
Family Promise is growing. Established in 1988, we currently operate 206 Affiliates across 43 states.
Family Promise mobilizes more than 180,000 volunteers and 6,000 congregations across the country.
Family Promise provided shelter and social services to nearly 70,000 people last year…. nearly 60% of them
Our Affiliates nationwide have developed more than 1,500 Community Initiatives to empower families and help
them achieve lasting independence, from parenting classes and after-school tutoring to financial literacy and
workforce development programs.
Family Promise is cost-effective. Because we utilize existing resources, we are able to deliver $3 in goods and
services for every $1 we receive.
Family Promise works. On average, 74% of our guests secure housing within nine weeks, helping them to achieve
Family Promise is the leading volunteer-driven non-profit providing services to homeless families.
Information Provided by Family Promise Carbon County, September 2017. Reference: www.familypromise.org
Lots of new and exciting things are happening with Family Promise! On May 23, 2019 we welcomed a new Program Director. Krista Brown recently relocated back to our area, and she comes with extensive and relevant experience in running a non-profit organization in the social services sector. Krista has been trained by the National Family Promise organization, and she is already busy filling her role. Here are some of the exciting things she is working on…
- Past Fundraisers: Sportsman Calendars & Benefit at the Butterfly Sanctuary
- Upcoming Fundraiser: Cycle Out Homelessness on September 28 (flyers have been posted)
- Cleaning the Day Center & Refinishing the Office Floors
- Attending Northeast Regional Meetings & Homeless Advisory Task Force Meetings
- Applying for Funding & Grants
- Updating the Family Promise Logo (see above)
- Working on a long-term solution for Day Center growth
- Outreach to network and acquire additional Board Members and Host Churches
Unfortunately, a few Churches dropped out of the Family Promise rotation for various reasons. One church closed, one church is losing its Pastor, and another church was unable to continue because of strict rules imposed by their church leadership. There are currently no families in the Program, and families will not be brought into the program until a few additional host churches are committed. We are hoping to be able to assist the homeless families of Carbon County and surrounding communities in the very near future.
Continue to watch for updates and if you have any questions, please contact Karen Hayman. Thank you to everyone who is committed to helping families in need.