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Categorized | From the Pulpit

Family Promise: Ending homelessness one family at a time

Rev. Bill Johnson

Cedar Springs United Methodist

140 S. Main St., Cedar Springs, MI  49319

Do you have a roof over your head? Do you have food in your cupboards and refrigerator? Do you go to school with enough money to buy your lunch? Does your child have a backpack that is equipped with everything she needs to complete her schoolwork? 

If you can answer yes to most if not all these questions, you are among the blessed. My guess is that you probably know that, and you no doubt give thanks each day for your good fortune. You may even believe your good fortune is God’s doing. 

Yet, sometimes all the faith in the world isn’t enough to prevent homelessness. It may be a medical crisis, sudden job loss, or just one setback after another causing families to lose their homes. Unfortunately, this can often mean that the only solution is to split up a family to find shelter in different locations for the family members. Ironically, 80 percent of these homeless families have employment; some are college educated and some have worked their whole adult life. Even so, their income is inadequate to cover rental costs, let alone a mortgage. 

In 1997 a ray of hope appeared: Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN), now called Family Promise was born. But did you know there are still 3000 homeless children in Kent County, and that family homelessness is the fastest growing homeless population? 

This fall, after much prayer, recruitment, planning, organizing, and no small amount of fundraising, Family Promise is coming to Northern Kent County. Area churches are bonding together across denominational lines, to provide host sites—churches that will provide temporary shelter, one week at a time, year-round, for families who are caught in crisis. 

You can help. In addition to financial gifts, volunteers are needed to make a meal, sleep overnight in a host site, play with kids, read books to children, host family activities, and help a family move. You can donate hygiene products: Soap, shampoo, deodorant, toothbrushes, toothpaste, etc. Baby products: formula, bottles, pacifiers, diapers, wipes, etc. Clothing: Socks, undergarments, t-shirts, bus tickets or gas cards, Gift cards for Walmart, Meijer, Family Dollar; new or gently used furniture and household products. 

Perhaps you know the story of a poor family that once needed temporary shelter. They were taken-in by an innkeeper who housed them in a stable (Luke 2:4-7). People of faith have been doing that ever since. Now it has a name.  

If you or your church wish to join get in on this phenomenal mission called Family Promise: Interfaith Hospitality Network, contact North Kent Connect, 616-866-3478 or visit www.FamilyPromiseGR.org/donate. 

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