While we’re talking homelessness: Family Promise update


One year ago, we published a feature story about Family Promise of Seattle, a small organization with the very specific goal of helping homeless families stay together while they get back on their feet. It’s based in the building you see above — an old fourplex leased from adjacent West Side Presbyterian Church — but that’s just its day center; local churches help house the families it helps. Recently, board member Laura Bermes e-mailed to share an update on the group – and with all the conversation triggered by “Nickelsville” and the SHARE sleepout protest, this seems like a relevant time:

Have you ever struggled to pay the rent, or wondered what would happen if you lost your job, or what might happen if you were to fall ill without adequate insurance? It doesn’t take a lot of bad luck to become homeless in Seattle. The cost of living keeps increasing, opportunity for employment keeps decreasing, incomes are falling and families are finding themselves homeless. In the Seattle School District last year, more than 900 students were identified as being “homeless”. It happens – and, yes, it happens right here in our sweet West Seattle. Fortunately, West Seattle offers a meager, but effective sheltering program for families where volunteers provide meals and a safe place to sleep at night through the generous support of area churches, and families find social service support at a Day Center.

Family Promise, West Seattle’s only sheltering program for homeless families, has served over 13 families since opening its doors in July of 2008. Single moms and their babies, toddlers, elementary, middle and high school students, and a couple of dads. The program has seen success, and has allowed hundreds of volunteers the opportunity to learn more about homelessness and to reap the benefit of caring for strangers. This is the kind of program that fits perfectly in this caring community that we all appreciate. Right now, Family Promise needs your help.

The Family Promise Board has set three ambitious goals for the continuation of this unique program: 1. to raise 90,000 in operating income by November 1st; 2. to increase Board Membership by recruiting interested business people in the community; and 3. to increase the number partner congregations / synagogues. In order to meet these goals, the Board is planning a Public Relations Campaign that will reach out to the West Seattle Community for support. We need your help to keep this family shelter in operation.

Here are Two Ways YOU can MAKE A DIFFERENCE: You can help by volunteering your time at a partner congregation, in the Day Center or by serving on the Board. You can help by donating money, or by becoming a member of “Club 206,” a group of individual donors (living in the 206 area code) that agree to give $206 a year. Visit the Family Promise website for more information or give a call to the Day Center at 937-2703.

7 Replies to "While we're talking homelessness: Family Promise update"

  • Kristina September 30, 2009 (7:39 am)

    As one volunteer out of the hundreds that support Family Promise, I can’t tell you how much I believe in this program. One example from many: One single mom and her son showed up to the church basement, and the wide-eyed, beautiful four year old looked up at his mom and said, “Do we live here now?” and then was grateful for the room, the air mattress…it made me just about weep for my own ingratitude (gee I wish I could afford 600 count sheets….!). I saw that family get back on their feet and move to a “regular” apartment and even though I was just a tiny, tiny part of that solution, I felt jubilant. This is community action at its best, and I can’t say enough good things about the Family Promise program.

  • SorryButNo September 30, 2009 (11:06 am)

    FamilyPromise is a great example of an organization to get behind, unlike Nickelsville or SHARE. Here is a group that is focusing on solving the specific problems of an individual or family, and finding effective ways to do it.

  • homesweethome September 30, 2009 (2:07 pm)

    I think its important to note about Family Promise as well that while folks in the program are offered shelter in participating congregations, those congregations do not proselytize to the participants. FP is a great organization – and they serve any kind of family – and families by the way should they become homeless in King county have very few places, or shelters that will serve them and allow a family to stay together – most often families are split up once they avail themselves of resources.

  • Kristina September 30, 2009 (4:03 pm)

    Seconding HomeSweetHome’s message: there are twelve (?) congregations running the shelter, including Catholic, Protestant, and UU, but no evangelizing. All people from any religion, or no religion, or atheist, or agnostic, or fillintheblank, are welcome.

  • Laura Bermes September 30, 2009 (9:00 pm)

    Thank You to the West Seattle Blog’s editor for publishing this story. You provide a voice for our community and Family Promise is a great representation of the best our community has to offer!

  • Marcia October 1, 2009 (8:53 am)

    Thank you for all story and supporting comments about Family Promise of Seattle. Please note that this is a Seattle area program, serving families from the city and beyond. Supporting congregations are located from Queen Anne to Tukwila — and new groups are being invited to join the network. So please contact FPS if your congregation or other organization is interested in participation! FPS began in West Seattle but it is eager to expand.

  • Erik October 1, 2009 (11:13 am)

    Thanks for lifting up this issue again and running this article, and thanks to Laura for articulating what remains a largely hidden problem, yet one which so many of us are only a couple of paychecks removed from.
    Our congregation (Peace Lutheran) has been challenged and blessed as a partner congregation. As funding from state and county sources for addressing homeless issues decrease, we can make a big difference if we step up–whether to the level of “206 club” or via a lesser (or greater) ongoing commitment.

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