Family Promise to start program Nov. 1
Family Promise of Florence hosted a grand opening and tours of its Day Center Monday afternoon and announced that it will begin operation on Nov. 1. Jo Ellen Schneider, executive director of Family Promise of Florence, said this new program in Florence will help fill a gap in local services to the homeless by providing shelter to families.
Essentially, it serves as a local mission project for participating churches who house the families during their transitional time through the Family Promise program. “I know how excited folks in the community are about finally getting Family Promise to this point,” said an equally excited director. “I am waiting with great anticipation to see how well we can make a lasting positive contribution – one family at a time.” Currently, 12 families are being screened for this program, she said.
The Day Center for the program is located in a house behind the House of Hope women’s facility on West Darlington Street. It will serve as a day-time site for the adults to get assistance on job searching, counseling on handling their finances, and provide a place for them to focus on the needs of their family. The program is unique to each individual, said Jo Ellen, explaining that some may already have jobs, but have other needs, such as counseling or job skills.
She said Family Promise will work closely with partnering agencies to help these families. Family Promise is a national program with eight affiliates in South Carolina, mostly in the upstate. It was founded in 1988 by Karen Olson, through a simple gesture of offering a sandwich to an individual in passing on her way to work into a national movement, with 192 Family Promise affiliates in 42 states.
The organization engages 160,000 volunteers from 6,000 congregations nationwide to provide services to more than 50,000 homeless and low-income people annually. Olson believed that by engaging a community, they could accomplish together what they could not individually. Thus formed the Interfaith Hospitality Network and the beginnings of Family Promise. In Florence, 12 churches have stepped forward to provide housing.
They are Calvary Baptist, Central United Methodist, First Baptist Florence, First Presbyterian Florence, Grace Baptist, Greenwood Baptist, Highland Park United Methodist Church, Immanuel Baptist, John Calvin Presbyterian, Mt. Zion AME, Pisgah United Methodist Church and Southside Baptist. Additionally, other churches in the community will offer support in a number of ways to assist this mission in the Florence community.
The partnership of these churches and volunteers provide immeasurable support towards the belief that we can address family homelessness right here in our own communities, commented Jo Ellen. “Family Promise is a way for the compassionate people of Florence to work together so that homeless families find not only a place to live, but a community of support,” said Mike Henderson, pastor of Highland Park United Methodist Church. Highland Park will be the first church to host families, beginning Nov. 1. To find how you or your church can get involved with Family Promise, visit their website at www.familypromiseofflorence.com, or call 843-407-5745.