By Nikki Darling, TSB Staff
In the Fall of 2011, there were reportedly 274,030 people unemployed in DFW; and those are just the recorded cases.
Unemployment and, as a result homelessness, is a growing issue in Collin County. And though its presence may not be noticeable to the average community member, Family Promise of Collin County is dedicated to changing this statistic and eradicating homelessness in the county. Partnering with churches for shelter, and other established organizations for education, Family Promise, which is located in Allen, offers a unique and personalized program in reestablishing these families in the community and giving them a second chance at a successful life.
The vision of Family Promise, is for the United States to become “a nation in which every family has a home, a livelihood, and the chance to build a better future together.” A large part of how Family Promise strives to achieve their mission is by partnering with local churches, forming interfaith hospitality networks. These networks mobilize community resources, including volunteers, and assist with finding families a place to stay and referring families to appropriate social services.
“We have at least 13 host churches on average and once every quarter a church will host a family for one week,” said Jacqueline Cook, the network director for Family Promise.
The families stay in the churches at night and go about their business during the day. This business could range from the kids going to school, to the parents looking for work or attending classes. After the one week is up, the family then moves on to the next host church, where they are fed and given beds to sleep on, Cook explained.
“Because the families’ basic needs are taken care of while they are living at the churches, we encourage them to save 80 percent of their earnings so they can build up a savings account,” Cook said.
Experts from Family Promise sit down with the guest families and plan out a personalized plan based upon a family’s needs. While some need help creating a budget, others need help finding a job to support their family. Family Promise offers help beyond simply give these families a place to stay – Family Promise also gives families the resources they need to reestablish their independence and give them a second chance at a successful life.
“After the families leave the host churches and get out on their own, we set up a 2-year monitoring program where we check in on them to make sure they are staying on track with their plan,” said Jacqueline.
Though Family Promise has been extremely successful in re-acclimating families to the real world, it still has its struggles. “We do have a transportation issue. Sometimes families have jobs, but they just need a way of getting there and we don’t always have that,” Cook said. But as they grow, so do their resources and generous donations from the community help as well.
One of the biggest factors in its success at aiding so many homeless families is its large volunteer base. Whether these volunteers are helping out at the Family Promise Center or whether they are volunteers at the host churches, they are offering their services and giving the organization the extra help it needs.
Family Promise has a bright future in store because of its growing popularity and support from the community. Cook discussed how she is hoping “to open two more affiliates in Collin County over the next 5 years.” With the hope of expansion in the future Family Promise will continue to transform the community and change the lives of families in need.