“Everything happens in God’s time,” is a saying we hear. It has been hard to be patient with so many of our neighbors in need, and especially when kids are involved through no fault of their own. The Escambia County school system documented 1851 homeless students last year. Double that number to include their siblings under school age. Who knows about the home-schooled numbers? Kids are usually 60% of the numbers and their parents 40%. That’s a lot for us all to help “one family at a time,” but that approach is what works according to this national program that has been doing this work since 1988. Our goal is to have four families as our guests in our “interfaith hospitality network” at any one time. Nationally 78% of families exit to stable housing (2021). Other families are served through temporary prevention support, education, and/or help with shelter diversion in collaboration with other agencies. Families that find their way to a home are offered continued case management and support for up to one year – a key service that helps them succeed long-term.
With raising a $5k “match” locally, we were able to apply that and another $15k from Clayton Homes and the national program to help 37 families this fall. These were families that contacted us or United Ministries. All had received eviction notices. We covered a lease payment, a mortgage, or repaired a car to keep a job.
- FPEC assisted a mom and her kids to find shelter until they moved into an apartment last month.
- Another mom and her kids are waiting for a home to be renovated; she hopes to move in January.
- Jenn* is actively working with other families to help them get out of their car or out of their day-motel or out of the woods.
- Our lists of host congregations and other support congregations and organizations continue to grow. They are listed on our website, www.familypromiseofescambia.org.
Jenn Lusher*, a United Methodist minister who had previously been a part of our community, joined us as Executive Director in August. She has a wonderful mix of skills and experiences to lead this effort. We are so grateful that she came our way! She has created these “4 P’s” to guide us:
- Become a Place Partner– In order to house families, we are in need of host sites. These spaces are provided by government entities, local churches and faith-based organizations. Contact Jenn at firstname.lastname@example.org or 850-477-6510.
- Become a Prayer Partner – This is a vital part of our work. We covet the prayers of our community! Contact Jenn to receive updates.
- Become a People Partner– You can serve as a mentor, coach, meal helper, fundraiser volunteer and as day center support. Contact Jenn.
- Become a Provision Partner– Family Promise needs both financial and physical resources to meet family needs. We would love to receive any end-of-year donations you are able to share. Donations may be made through the website or by mail to FPEC, 901 E. Gadsden St., Pensacola, FL 32501.
We have been blessed with support in so many different ways! There have been unexpected financial gifts, some local grants, supplies, and willing volunteers, but our Day Center “hub” site remains elusive. Many helped prepare one of our church sites to serve as a temporary Day Center, but it can better serve as a host site (we have 7 now – enough to start!). There are other places being considered, but the costs for them are funds we would rather direct to families’ needs instead if we can find a cheaper lease or that “donated” spot the national folks were so sure would come when they introduced this idea to us in 2018! Our goal to begin hosting families in January will be delayed, but not for long!
Thank you for your interest in these kids, their families, and the challenges they face. Thank you for your support, whether financial, hands-on, prayer, or just spreading the word to those YOU know who might help.
Look for a return to regular communication in 2024 – by folks less “wordy” than myself! Happy 2024!