Family Promise helps local communities coordinate their compassion to address the root causes of family homelessness. They address the issue holistically, providing prevention services before families reach crisis, shelter and case management when they become homeless, and stabilization programs once they have secured housing to ensure they remain independent.
Family Promise taps existing local resources to empower families towards economic stability. Families come in crisis; they help them rebuild their lives with new skills and ongoing support.
After three years of preparation--recruiting Host Churches, raising support, preparing the Day Center, and hiring staff--Family Promise of Barry County opened its doors to their first family on April 14, 2019. The ribbon cutting ceremony at the Day Center (located at Hope United Methodist Church) showed a wonderful outpouring of community support that has not stopped to this day.
To learn more, go to familypromisebarrycounty.org
Sign up to help: August 28-September 3
Sign up to help: October 16-22
by Maggie Catchick-Houghton, June 2022
Signing up to host is a great way to help out these families in need. Our church usually hosts four weeks in the year. Hosts will either spend part of a Saturday or an evening and overnight in the Day Center, which is located around the back of Hope United Methodist Church on the second floor.
During this time you may visit with the parents, play games with the children, or just read or work on your computer and be present if that suits you best. There is one room for the two hosts to sleep in with twin beds and a desk. Linens are already on the beds and we ask that you strip and remake them at the end of your stay. If you prefer to bring your own bedding or a sleeping bag to use, that is fine too and saves them doing the laundry! There is a large bathroom for the volunteers downstairs in the church with a sink, mirror, and toilet. Overnight stays begin at 7:30 p.m. and end at 8:00 a.m. when the Family Promise employees arrive at the office in the Day Center.
When you provide and share a meal
Another way to help is to provide dinner for the families. Hosting dinner means making a meal, bringing it to the Day Center, serving the meal and joining the families around the table, eating and making conversation. At the end of the meal, everyone will help clean up and take out the trash.
This is a great chance to get to know our families and the children. This service begins at 5 p.m. and you will stay until the overnight hosts arrive at 7:30 p.m. The lunch room is stocked with a fridge and most condiments as well as paper plates, napkins, and cutlery. If other dishes are needed, you can find most anything in the church kitchen downstairs, however those items would need to be washed and returned there after use.
Want to help out, but need to start with something small? Offer to buy some lunch and breakfast items for the week like fresh fruit, a gallon of milk, juice, etc. Make cookies for the kids or donate a $5 gift card to a store or fast food restaurant which Family Promise uses to reward the kids for doing small jobs at the day center. Every little bit helps!
Did you know that "Food Waste" is one of the major problems that are causing our environmental crisis? Yup, it's true. Check it out.
So, when helping out by providing a meal for Family Promise, please try to keep these helpful tips in mind!
You probably don't eat a three course meal with dessert every night. They don't either. Your generosity is beautiful, but look at what others are bringing and know it's okay to skip the dessert.
These are families with kids/teens and they are all going through some trauma right now. Trying something new is great! But comfort foods that are familiar will probably be most welcome.
Providing choice helps when kids (or adults!) are picky eaters. Several small options or "build your own" meals might go over better than a casserole where everything is all mixed together.
Individual portions can also be easier for families: popsicles or cupcakes instead of a whole cake or gallon of ice cream, for example; snack packs with carrots and dip instead of a tray full of vegetables.
Hand-held foods require fewer plastic utensils to be wasted. Disposable plates and such are still the norm as washing dishis is difficult, so consider that as well.
When the meal is finished, consider taking the leftovers with you. Half a casserole will probably never be finished. Better to take that home and enjoy it with family! Left over half a tomato or onion, or a small bit of salad will probably also go to waste. If there are already nearly full bottles of ketchup and mustard in the fridge and you brought more, take yours home with you.
Sharing the meal is a great opportunity to model eating well, trying new things and being thankful for good food, so be sure to sit with the families and dig in as well! It's also a wonderful time for dinner table conversations and that family connection they may all be missing (or may have never had).
Realize that these families are in a tough spot, and may "pick their battles" and let the kids eat ice cream instead of vegetables. They may not say thank you, often due to embarrassment or shame over accepting the kindness of strangers, but this does not mean that they are not thankful. The blessings come from being able to offer what you can with no judgement or expectation of thanks or reward. Know in your heart, what you are doing helps.
And we are so thankful for you and the service you have provided!