Part of my seminary studies required me to work at a non-profit of my choice for 8hrs/week for two full semesters. I chose to work with an organization called Family Promise.
Family Promise is a family homeless shelter where screened homeless families (i.e. no chronic homeless, no drug addicts, no alcohol, etc.) are housed in churches each night from approx. 6PM – 6AM. (Families stay at a “day house” in Dunwoody during the daytime hours.) Several local churches participate in the program so that each church hosts the homeless for a week every 3-4 months. The Family Promise model was created to prevent the splitting up of families between men’s shelters (boys and fathers) and women’s shelters (mothers and daughters).
Family Promise is a national organization and when I arrived here in Georgia I contacted the local chapter to investigate whether UUMAN could become a host congregation. It is a very organized program that has pre-defined roles/jobs that churches simply fill.
What UUMAN would have to do while hosting:
- Provide an evening meal for the homeless individuals and join them for dinner at approx. 6PM (generally up to 20 individuals maximum; 12 on average)
- Play with/read to the children of the homeless “guests” 6:30 – 8:00PM (Position: Evening Hosts)
- One UUMAN congregant spends the night at UUMAN 8PM – 6AM (Position: Overnight Host)
The actual times are flexible and would be dictated by UUMAN.
Some things that UUMAN would not have to do:
- Provide any transportation
- Provide any bedding (Family Promise would deliver folding beds on Sunday at a time we specify and retrieve them the following Sunday at a time we specify)
Also in my time here, I have formed some relationships with Roswell Community Masjid (RCM). (They did a workshop at UUMAN in early 2016 that was very well received.)
In their efforts to become a positive presence in our community they have been looking to affiliate with Family Promise as well. They are open to being a “support congregation” to us in the hosting of our Family Promise guests.
Benefits of UUMAN affiliating with Family Promise:
- It will give us first-hand experience of homelessness in our community (e.g. causes, difficulties associated with overcoming obstacles, reflecting upon stereotypes, etc.)
- It will give us first-hand experience of working with and religious community (i.e. RCM) much different than ours.
- It will give us first-hand experience of UUMAN as a social justice organization.
- It is multigenerational; our children can play with their children
After hearing that UUMAN might possible affiliate with Family Promise, I received the following unsolicited email:
I’ve met you a couple of times. I am a friend of several UUMAN members and I attend the Pilgrimage United Church Of Christ.
Anyway, I want you to know that our little liberal church in Cobb County also is very involved with Family Promise. I just wanted you to know that we are very devoted to it. At first I was just a laundry angel but now I sleep at the church one night during the week when the families are there. It has helped me step out of my comfort zone and get to know what’s really going on with homeless families. It’s been a great blessing for me. I just wanted to pass along that feedback.
I couldn’t have said it better myself! Our work with Family Promise gives us the opportunity to safely “step out of [our] comfort zone and get to know what’s really going on with homeless families.”
Family Promise provides us with a wonderful opportunity to learn and grow in ways we have not yet imagined.
I look forward to working side by side with you on this.
Take care and be well,