I don’t know exactly how I heard about Family Promise of Las Vegas, a nonprofit organization that helps families move from the street, or their car, or crammed in with relatives or having the family separated and living in shelters. I do know that as each year passes, this organization and its volunteers bring comfort to many and enrich the entire community.
Call me a bleeding heart liberal or one of a handful of other titles, but I believe we have a responsibility to each other. We should help those who are having a rough time. It is our responsibility. And taking on responsibility for others is what Family Promise does.
Terry Lindemann, the organization’s executive director, and Barbara Coggins, program manager for the Family Promise HUD Supportive Housing Program, have been shining examples of what responsibility to each other is all about. Each one has been with Family Promise for close to a decade.
As the Family Promise website states, its mission is “to offer homeless families the opportunity to achieve housing stability by providing short-term shelter, meals, case management and hospitality.” What the staff and volunteers deliver, could never be added up in dollars and cents.
Family Promise houses families overnight, free of charge, a week at a time, in a church, synagogue or mosque. For a week or sometimes two throughout the year, one of more than 30 faith-based organizations provides a “home” for anywhere from two to five families.
Volunteers from these faith-based organizations prepare the evening meal, everyone helps clean up, families make their lunch for the next day, kids play and adults talk, and then it is off to sleep.
The next morning, the Family Promise van picks up the families and takes them to the “day house” in Las Vegas where they do their laundry, search for jobs and housing, complete paperwork or study.
Here, families can use computers to find a job or apartment, research credit counseling organizations and seek the various welfare organizations that could provide services.
Families also have access to individual and family therapy. They have an address where they can receive mail and email that is not a luxury but a necessity in obtaining employment. Think for a moment how you would function without an address, phone or access to the Internet.
To me, the beauty of Family Promise is that each year a few hundred moms, dads and kids are able to have a safe place to live together while they work through the problem of homelessness. With the Family Promise model, there is a framework where moms, dads and kids — I even met a grandmother with her son and grandson — receive hospitality and kindness, one week at a time, from complete strangers who open their hearts and their checkbooks to provide a family meal each night, lunch for the day ahead and breakfast each morning.
Because each individual church provides housing and supplies food for lunch and breakfast, and volunteers provide an evening meal, all of this costs Family Promise nothing. Do the math, and you’ll see the cost of a week’s stay for a family of four or five at a motel and three meals a day.
This sheltering and hospitality is done because congregations care and are willing to open up their facilities and share what they have with others who are trying to get back on their feet. Call me crazy, but isn’t that exactly what faith-based organizations have as an undertaking?
This week Grace Community Church and dozens of volunteers from churches and organizations in Boulder City are providing a little bit of home to families of Family Promise. All I can say is an evening with these families not only helps them but it gives me and my husband, Mickey, more than I can describe. It didn’t cost us much for the groceries for the dinner and it won’t take much of our time. There’s no way to quantify what we get in return.
If you and your congregation are interested in becoming a part of the Family Promise network or donating to this organization, where 91 cents of every dollar goes to the families, go to the website at http://familypromiselv.com or give Terry Lindemann a call at 702-638-8806.
Rose Ann Miele is a journalist and was public information officer for Boulder City for nine years. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 702-347-9924.