top of page

Family Promise Blog

  • Writer's pictureFamily Promise HCR

One of my favorite quotes is from fictitious boxing icon Rocky Balboa, which in part reads: “The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place, and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life.”

While some of life’s ‘hits’ are self-inflicted by poor choices or ill-informed decisions, often they are the result of a single major life event that gets thrust upon us, throwing our entire lives into a tailspin. A catastrophic illness with insurmountable hospital and medical bills. A blindsiding divorce. The death of a spouse. The loss of a job. A natural disaster. And, of course, a global pandemic. The list goes on. Many may even experience several drastic life changes all at once.


In Q1 2021, a consumer trends report cited that 56% of Americans were living paycheck-to-paycheck. ¹ With the majority of the population living on razor-thin financial margins, a drastic and unforeseen life event can drop a family to the mat in an instant. One moment you’re getting by, and the next you’re facing the loss of your home or being evicted from your rental property. While many of us could lean on family or friends for help, countless others might not have that option, quickly rendering them without shelter.

The COVID-19 pandemic alone has pushed millions of families to the brink of eviction. A recent U.S. Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey showed that more than a quarter of renter families with children across the nation are behind on their rent.

The same U.S. Census Bureau study indicates more than 73,000 Pennsylvanians are somewhat likely or very likely to lose their homes to eviction over the coming months. The federal freeze on most evictions enacted in September of last year expired on August 26th, leaving many to anticipate a rapid spike in homelessness.


It’s important that we recognize just how vulnerable many of us are to this very type of predicament…No matter how hard we’ve worked, no matter how many good choices we’ve made. In an instant we could be clamoring for a roof over our heads, just when we think it could ‘never happen to us’. Housing creates a stable environment to help weather life’s crises, but it’s often life’s crises that render us without a home.

May it keep us all mindful of the thin line that separates us as we walk through life’s sliding doors. If adversity knocks us down for the count, it’s in these moments that strength and grace can also find us – whether through friends, family, co-workers, or community organizations and resources like Family Promise.

The remainder of my favorite Rocky quote ends appropriately with this reminder, “But it ain’t about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done.”


¹ Jungle Scout Consumer Trends Report Q1 2021; PR Newswire

If you or someone you know are in need of shelter, contact Family Promise of the Harrisburg Capital Region. Please call (717) 737-1100 or start the application process online here.

To volunteer or donate, please visit

Everyone has their own battles to fight but when it is a child fighting, the results are often more profound. When families experience homelessness, the dramatic lifestyle changes that children go through can be a catalyst for both good and bad. Problems with addiction, education, and motivation can often stem from early childhood struggles. Helping kids respond and bounce back from potentially destructive events is something to support and foster, ideally as early as possible.

Resilience is one’s ability to rebound from stress, failure, adversity, challenges, or even trauma. And, there is good news – it is not something that kids either have or don’t have, it is a skill that can be developed as they grow, even into adulthood. Teaching kids to be resilient allows them to reach for goals and not be afraid of falling short. By mitigating the struggles of experiencing homelessness, children can learn to take healthy, smart risks to advance their lives.

Anxiety and depression are more prevalent in children today due to everything seen in the news from politics and climate change to a global pandemic, local community struggles and more. Information overload can often be the source of mental and behavioral health stress, and should be cared for with a new awareness and new tactics.¹

What can help? Getting outside and moving can always help take the mind off of discomfort. Some may not take as kindly to physical exertion, but moderate activity in greenspaces is healthy for a developing mind. If you are in a child’s life who is experiencing homelessness, be that committed relationship in their lives. That connection will provide support and stability for them to lean on and grow from. In the debate between nature and nurture, if the nature side has fallen short, the nurture side can pick up the slack and help ensure healthy development.²

Johnathan was roughly 9 years old when he went through the Family Promise program, but is now 16 years old. He reflected, “I cannot remember her name but she was the woman that sat up front at the old Day Center in Lemoyne. She and I would talk about everything a 9-year-old could talk about, and she always had a smile on her face when we came in. My experience with Family Promise is that you should never take anything for granted and that you should always work hard for what you want.”

Kids need to learn problem solving, and if the home they are a part of cannot provide this, it is good to seek outside help to keep growing and learning how to adapt in an uncomfortable and imperfect environment. It is not only the kids learning how to be resilient, but the adults as well, and being a good example to the younger ones helps teach resilience. It is often said that ‘knowledge is power’, and to that end, FPHCR has several programs designed to help children improve resiliency and avoid making early mistakes that could create difficulty in adulthood. These classes range from budgeting and job searching to social networking and skill workshops.

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”

- Victor Frankl

Resiliency is a skill that can often be neglected, but as individuals go through tough times whether they know it or not, that skill is being tested and refined – and determines how well they bounce back. Being aware of ways to build those skills and improve the stress response is a good place to start, along with reaching out for assistance and helpful resources. FPHCR can lend a knowledgeable hand during your unique struggles, and is committed to getting you moving in a positive direction. While we cannot often control what happens to us, our power is in knowing that we can build the skills that help us bounce back quicker and stronger during the toughest of times.

¹; Resilience in Children – Strategies to Strengthen Your Kids

² Harvard University Center on the Developing Child; Key Concepts on Resilience

If you or someone you know are in need of shelter, contact Family Promise of the Harrisburg Capital Region. Please call (717) 737-1100 or start the application process online here.

To volunteer or donate, please click HERE

  • Writer's pictureFamily Promise HCR

Stress comes up a lot in today’s world, but it is a very broad term that can be tough to define and even harder to understand. It has several interpretations and an unlimited number of sources. Sometimes stress is physical, but oftentimes, it can go unseen and be psychological.

• Physical – e.g., noise, crowding, pollution, illness, disability, lack of shelter

• Psychological – e.g., fear, frustration, anger, worry

While experiencing homelessness, stress generates along many of these pathways and may not be treated and cared for equally. Mental stress from an uncertain future can be just as destructive as the physical burden of losing a home, and it’s no surprise that mental well-being has been shown to improve while living in a healthy environment. There are some factors in our lives that we are not in control of, so leaning into the ones we can control is a good place to start looking for help.

Stress can stem from so many different places that there is no universal cure, but being aware of the sources and the consequences of chronic stress may assist with self-help. Being exposed to certain sources of stress is unimaginable to some of us, but can be a daily struggle to those experiencing homelessness. One place to start looking at managing stress is the 4 A’s:¹

Avoid – plan out your days and take control of your surroundings; avoid people who bother you, learn to say ‘no’, and ditch part of your to-do list

Alter – understand your limits and voice desired changes; respectfully ask others to change their behavior, communicate your feelings openly, manage your time more effectively, and state your limits in advance

Accept – identify changes that aren’t possible; talk with someone, forgive, practice positive self-talk, and learn from your mistakes

Adapt – change your expectations to fit each day’s stressors; adjust your standards, practice negative ‘thought-stopping’, look at your situation from a new viewpoint, adopt a positive mantra, create a list of all the things that bring you joy, and focus on the big picture

When stress settles in, you might feel alone and short on hope – but remember that many individuals have gone through similar life events and have gotten back on their feet with a strong commitment to self-help, and the assistance of organizations like Family Promise.

“Being at Family Promise gave me a sense of relief because it was a safe place for my children and I when we were displaced from our home. They have endless amounts of resources and the staff gave me a lot of motivation to succeed. I am so very grateful for their program. I do not know where my 3 daughters and I would be today if were not able to attend Family Promise.”

-Stephanie, FPHCR graduate

Just like looking out for signs of stress, we can help you look out for potential warning signs of homelessness through case management, community resources, and skill-building classes – all intended to help families maintain a stable home. However, if you’re past the stage of prevention, our rotational emergency shelter program and warm hospitality are the cornerstones of our Family Promise model. Keeping the family together is a priority because, without a place to call your own, you need people to call you theirs.

¹; Health Information, Healthy Lifestyle: Stress Management

If you or someone you know is in need of shelter, contact Family Promise of the Harrisburg Capital Region. Please call (717) 737-1100 or start the application process online here.

To volunteer or donate, please visit here .

bottom of page