Family Promise Aims To Help Families Start New Lives
Public meeting on effort to help homeless families become self-sufficient will be held 7 pm -8:30pm Tuesday, June 26 at the YMCA of Pickens.
A new initiative from United Way of Pickens County aims to help homeless families get back on their feet and become self-sufficient.
Family Promise is a non-profit 501(c)3 non-denominational organization for families in transition.
United Way of Pickens County aims to join this movement by creating a Family Promise network here in the area, according to Steve Lambright, Manager of Initiatives and Programs at United Way of Pickens County.
A meeting about Family Promise will be held 7pm – 8:30pm Tuesday, June 26 at the YMCA of Pickens. The public is encouraged to attend and learn more about this effort to help area families.
The project aims to tackle both homeless and hunger in the area by helping families pull themselves out of poverty.
The board meets on a monthly basis. Lambright serves as board chairman.
“We're trying to address homelessness here,” he said.
There are 177 Family Promise affiliates in 41 states currently.
Family Promise “uses churches to house homeless families,” Lambright said. The Interfaith Hospitality Network, a program of Family Promise, joins together at least 13 churches to run the program.
“Each church would be responsible for four weeks through the year,” Lambright said. “They would house the families.”
Each church would house up to 14 people during the week, he said.
To be eligible for the housing, families must contain a child, Lambright said.
“It could be Mom and Dad with a child, could be single parent, mom or dad, with a child, it could grandmother, aunt, as long as they were the legal custodian (of the child.),” he said.
Families make up 41 percent of the homeless population in the United States, Lambright said.
“And it's growing,” he said. “That's really scary.”
The School District of Pickens County identified 1,468 homeless children in Pickens County this year.
“That's a huge number,” Lambright said.
The district has four social workers serving the entire district, Lambright said.
United Way helped the school district provided supplies – gift cards, clothes, school supplies for the homeless student population by contact Clemson Area Churches in Touch.
“It was absolutely tremendous,” Lambright said.
Family Promise aims to multiply the number of families an individual church can help by joining the churches together in a collective effort.
Under the program, the families will come in to a church on a Sunday evening and have a potluck meal with some of the congregation.
The families are responsible for cleaning up after the meal.
After the volunteer cooks, two more volunteers will come in to play with the kids and help with homework.
Another two volunteers, a man and a woman, will stay the night with the families at the church, Lambright said.
“Basically they'll convert Sunday School rooms or something into bedrooms for the week, since they come in Sunday night,” Lambright said.
The families will be out of the church by the next time the Sunday School rooms are needed.
During the day, the families will go to a Day Center.
“In there they'll have laundry facilities, so they can do all their laundry, they'll have shower facilities, so they can take a shower if needed,” Lambright said. “They'll have computers set up for the families to use to connect to the Internet to submit resumes. Most resumes now are done online. They have to have that access.”
Family Promise officials hopes that The Dream Center of Pickens County can serve as the Day Center for the program.
“It's so much the same target area that we're trying to serve,” Lambright said.
Case managers will work with the families at the Day Center
“Working with them to repair there credit, find out what are the hurdles to them getting housing?” Lambright said. “They want to teach them budgeting, so that when they get a job they don't fall into a situation like this again.”
The churches provide three meals a day for the families, including a brown bag lunch to take to the Day Center or a job site, he said.
Nationally, Family Promise is experiencing great success with its families, he said.
“Nationally, the success rate is 4 out of 5 families find independence – which means a job and permanent housing,” Lambright said.
Family Promise networks serve upwards of 50,000 families a year, he said.
“It's absolutely tremendous what's going on with that,” Lambright said.
Lambright says the Family Promise initiative will cost between a minimum of $100,000 - $110,000 a year.
“And you have the support of a national organization,” Lambright said.
Family Promise only charges its affiliates 1.5 percent of the affiliates operating budget to be a part of the program.
Lambright said the Family Promise effort is much easier to get started than building a homeless shelter. Pickens County currently doesn't have a homeless shelter.
Family Promise has written three grants already for the Pickens County effort.
Churches are already responding, Lambright said.
“We've had over 20 different churches from 12 different denominations meet with us already,” he said.
“Hopefully, we are a year out,” Lambright said. “I'm hoping next summer will have this up and running.”
The effort has a number of needs on its wish list, Lambright said.
Those items include the 13 host congregations needed to launch the program, a building that can serve as the Day Center, funds, a 15-passenger van and 14 plastic containers on wheels that will be used to store the families' personal belongings.
To find out more about Family Promise and how you can help, call Lambright at 850-7094, ext. 108 or email email@example.com.