Much has been done to address the needs of homeless individuals in the Midlands; however, most of the attention is focused on single men and women in trying to place them into jobs and get them back on their feet. Families with children often have nowhere to turn.
Family Promise, a national, non-profit initiative founded in 1986, brings the faith community together to help families regain their housing, independence and dignity. Since it began operating in Columbia in December, Family Promise has housed seven families (24 people). Three of those families have transitioned into permanent housing.
“We are making a difference in the Midlands,” says Kathleen McLean-Titus, the group’s executive director. “The faith community is helping families experiencing homelessness to get back on their feet and move forward with their lives,” she adds.
Here’s how the program works: Four times a year, for one week at a time, host congregations from both Lexington and Richland counties provide overnight lodging, three daily meals and hospitality.
Hosting rotates among 15 houses of worship, with each providing lodging for families –– up to 14 people at a time. The families arrive at a new congregation on Sunday evening and leave the following Sunday morning. The Family Promise affiliate also provides a day center, which has showers and laundry facilities. Host congregations include Episcopalians, Lutherans, Methodists and Presbyterians, to name a few.
“The volunteers are the ones who make Family Promise so successful,” says Kathleen. They cook, serve meals, play with children, help them with their homework and stay overnight. Most importantly, volunteers interact with the guests, treating them with respect and responding with compassion.
Kathleen is an experienced social work professional who helps guests find housing, jobs and other services. The agencies assist the executive director to assess potential guest families for substance abuse, domestic violence or psychiatric problems. To learn more about Family Promise, visit familypromisemidlands.org.