Reaching Out Helping in Times of Crisis

Richard Day

Reaching Out
Helping in Times of Crisis

Through Outreach at Kenilworth Union Church, agencies such as Family Promise are receiving much-needed support.

When the major bread winner loses his/her job it can be very unsettling. If the process of finding a new job takes a long time it can be a serious problem. Fortunately, for many of us, we often have resources that can tide us over and help us find that next job without losing our home and our children losing their school and their friends.

But for many others the loss of a job can quickly lead to homelessness. For many, the loss of a paycheck means that rent is not paid. It means that a family needs to move.  Children usually lose their playmates and their school. How can the breadwinner, often the mom, find a job if there is no one to care for the children, or she has lost her means of transportation?

The Family Promise model is unique in many ways. First, it aims to keep families together in a safe environment. Second, it provides support services to get families back to work and living independently.

Their process is to screen for applicants that are free of drugs or alcohol. Applicants must have also shown a work ethic and determination to get back on their own. Family Promise wants the children to stay with their school if at all possible. If the children are in preschool, then a care system exists so the parent or parents can get a resume, coaching and the tools to find work.

What makes this so unique is where these homeless live: in one of twenty religious congregations throughout the North Shore. A van picks up the three or four families at the end of the day and drops them off at their host congregation. Members of the host Congregation feed them dinner, members and their children provide help with homework, or play board games with the families. Beds and bedding are provided by Family Promise.

The next morning the families are packed up and dropped back at the Family Promise headquarters in Evanston where the children are taken to school, or if younger, cared for while their parent(s) continue their job search.

Each host congregation provides hospitality for up to one week and may do this a few times a year. There are other congregations that assist the host congregations with meals or companionship.

Family Promise of the North Shore has been in existence since 2010. There are three levels of congregational involvement:  as a host, as a support group or as a funder.

Kenilworth Union has been a funder of this organization for the past year. I encourage any and all who are interested in finding out more about Family Promise to visit Family Promise North Shore or talk to me.