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A community response to homeless families

By Staff | Apr 27, 2010

Christ United Methodist Church, Hughesville, PA

Two Hughesville churches and a Muncy church have all agreed to help support a new program that was incorporated earlier this month to serve local families who may find themselves in a non-coping situation due to a receding and desperate economy.

Family Promise of Lycoming County is a non-profit denominational organization for families in transition. It is part of a national network and Lycoming County is one of over 163 Networks across the United States among 5000 congregations and 110,000 volunteers who comprise these Networks. Based on the support of these volunteers and Host Congregations, Family Promise programs are funded entirely by donations, grants, fundraising opportunities.

Along with the Host Congregations and volunteers, Family Promise works together with day centers and transportation services to assist families to help them rebuild their lives, quickly and without major start-up costs.

For example, a low income family suffers from a house fire and loses everything. The little insurance they had may help build another structure, but will not replace personal belongings. They may end up living with an outside family member in an already too small apartment. Family Promise will help them with a temporary shelter and connect the family with existing resources to help them get back on their feet. Rebuilding takes a long time.

Trinity Lutheran Church on South Main Street has volunteered to be a Host Congregation. Supporting congregations will be Christ United Methodist Church in Hughesville, also on S. Main St., and the Church of the Resurrection in Muncy.

Trinity Lutheran Church, Hughesville, PA

Three or four times a year, for one week at a time, they will provide hospitality that includes overnight lodging and meals which will be a supper, breakfast and a brown bag lunch for a family who meets the eligible criteria.

The housing will rotate among 12 other congregations in the County and more are invited to join according to President, Kristi Hammaker. Host Congregations will hold up to three families or up to fourteen people from 5 p.m. to 7 a.m. the next morning.

During the day guests will visit a designated center with a homelike atmosphere where will they will get help and support to connect with other community resources in order to gain meaningful housing and employment during this transitional time.

Volunteers are crucial to Family Promise and are the lifeblood of the program according to Pastor Elkin, Vice-President. Volunteers are needed to help with the cooking, serving meals, caring for the children or helping with homework and staying overnight. They need respect and compassion which makes the churches a good place for them to go,” said a volunteer.

Volunteers are also needed as part time drivers to help transport and guide guests back and forth from the day centers to the host churches as well as employment interviews, housing searches and medical appointments.

Estimated costs for the first year are averaged at $100,000 so there needs to be a steady stream of funding and self-support within the Networks and encourage people to help in whatever areas they can.

Almost 80% of families who participate in Family Promise programs do find permanent or transitional housing, and those without jobs do find employment or enter job training. Others have even enrolled in higher learning.

Those who can help or would like to make a donation, are encouraged to visit Family Promise of Lycoming County, Inc. at their main office at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church on Market Street in Williamsport, or call the office phone at 323-4619.