Giving Tuesday benefits Family Promise
● By Steven Hoffman
Donations to the United Way of Southern Chester County on Giving Tuesday, December 2, will be used to benefit the new Family Promise organization that serves communities in Southern Chester County.
Family Promise of Southern Chester County was conceived during the spring of 2014 by an advocacy group initiated by United Way of Southern Chester County in partnership with Kennett Area Community Service (KACS). According to Kate Uhler, Emergency Assistance Case Manager of KASC, “Considerable time, effort and finances had been required to historically support children and their families impacted by homelessness in our southern Chester County area, including Unionville, Kennett Square, West Grove and Oxford. This was especially true during the hard winter of early 2014.”
“We lack a suitable facility to support families and children impacted by homelessness in southern Chester County. There is an obvious need for a more sustainable solution that helps parents return to a stable home and improved financial environment for their entire family,” said Carrie Freeman, CEO of the United Way of Southern Chester County.
United Way is supporting the new Family Promise organization as its fiscal sponsor until their 501c3 charitable organization status is completed.
“The UWSCC Board of Directors is deeply committed to addressing childhood homelessness in our area,” stated Freeman. “As a special initiative to support Family Promise, all online donations received by UWSCC on Dec. 2 will be used to implement the Family Promise program.”
Family Promise of Southern Chester County has already completed the organizational efforts of incorporation, board appointments and approval of bylaws.
“We found a marvelous affiliate-based organization named Family Promise, headquartered in Summit, New Jersey, that had demonstrated national success with over 180 successful operations around the United States. They have seen the challenges we are facing in southern Chester County many times and are the perfect solution for our homelessness alleviation needs here,” said Dave Haradon, board president of the new local affiliate. “The Family Promise organization sees the potential in people for future success. We, in turn, declare a commitment that we are here to support their future success.”
Family Promise operates by cultivating a local network of a minimum of 13 host churches in the affiliate's geographical area. Each church agrees to house a maximum of 14 people consisting of only parents and children (no single adults) impacted by homelessness for reasons of job loss, housing loss, financial burdens, etc. The congregations agree to provide overnight accommodations, breakfast and dinner to the families four times a year for an entire week. All families are pre-interviewed by professional counselors to assure they meet acceptable criteria for entry into the program.
During the day, the families consisting of parents and children are transported to a designated resource center where the children are transported to their home school districts so their education is not disrupted and unemployed parents receive counseling and support to find housing, job opportunities and financial sustainability.
“We have already had several organizations approach us about possible locations in the middle of southern Chester County,” said John Kriza, a realtor with Beiler-Campbell who serves on the Family Promise Board and is Chairman of the Resource Center search committee.
“It’s an amazing transformation in people’s lives,” said Reverend Annalie Korengel, Pastor for Unionville Presbyterian Church and vice president of the new Family Promise affiliate.
“On average, it only takes 60 days in the Family Promise system to help turn a family’s situation around from living in a car or with friends to a new beginning that will last the rest of their lives.” She added, “That’s why our church leaders and congregation at Unionville Presbyterian Church wanted to be the first ones to step up and commit to join this incredible effort.”
Family Promise of Southern Chester County is already in conversation with many more churches in the area.
“There are many larger churches in southern Chester County that are seriously discussing the possibility of being overnight hosts to our families,” said Deb Schmittle, board member and chairperson of the Church Recruitment Committee. “They are willing to involve both their facilities and their congregations in this effort. The smaller churches are also lining up to provide volunteer meal preparation, entertainment, transportation and many other components other than just housing. One of the marvelous experiences of Family Promise is how this program really brings congregations together to provide a community outreach service that tangibly makes a difference in people lives.”
Startup of Family Promise of Southern Chester County is planned for early or mid-2015. “We have over 100 volunteers and numerous organizations working to bring this program to our area,” said Haradon. “It’s amazing what a few dedicated people can create together that will make a huge difference in people’s lives.”
To make a donation on Giving Tuesday or for more information, visit http://UnitedWaySCC.org/GIVE.aspx or call 484-883-3110.