This October, Family Promise, a community response to family homelessness, celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary. The vision of one woman from New Jersey, Karen Olsen, evolved into 182 interfaith hospitality networks across the country, including 4 in Massachusetts, who since 1988, have helped more than 500,000 people-men, women and children-with housing, case management and other services to regain their self-sufficiency.
Started as a local effort to address the crisis of family homelessness, Family Promise works on the principle that the elements to help children and their families-who make up 40% of all people who are homeless-are already in the community. The program brings together houses of worship to provide temporary homes, facilities to provide space during the day for case management, and most importantly, thousands of volunteers who, by sharing a few hours of their time, enable families to turn their lives around.
Also in October, Family Promise Metrowest celebrated its fifth anniversary of serving families in our Metrowest suburbs. With seeds planted by the Wellesley Congregational Church, Family Promise grew to 21 member congregations at the time of its opening and 40 today: churches, synagogues, and mosques. Volunteers, now numbering close to 2000, come from throughout the area including businesses, civic organizations, and colleges. Family Promise has served 70 families with 120 children. It is the first resource in Metrowest to which agencies turn to house families who do not qualify for state shelter. Because of the extent of in-kind contributions, Family Promise is able to help families at a far lower cost than traditional shelter-while at the same time building community between its volunteers and the families served in the program.
When it opened in 2008, Family Promise Metrowest, joined other Massachusetts affiliates, the Interfaith Hospitality Network of Greater Worcester and the Montachusett Interfaith Hospitality Network and helped to launch Family Promise North Shore Boston which recently opened its doors. To learn more about joining Family Promise, visit their website.
by Judy Mongiardo, Network Coordinator, Family Promise Metrowest and member, Task Team to End Homelessness
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