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Family Promise Blog


Matt's Family Promise Heroes

Who are Matt's Family Promise heroes? - FP kids! - Amazing volunteers such as Laurie and our Spring Jam committee - Our Facebook followers -You! Check out this quick video where Matt shares more about his FP heroes.

Not All Heroes Wear Capes by Stacey Coldren

What does a hero look like to you? To me, some heroes wear totes on their heads as opposed to capes. When a parent comes into program, they always say, "I am here because of my kids. If it wasn't for them, I would have given up."

So, if you think about it, children are the heroes in their parents’ lives. They save them from giving up. They inspire them to keep taking those positive steps forward.

That sounds like a hero to me!

Our Families: Our Heroes by Susan Ryder Out of context, this doesn’t seem like much, but when you know the story behind these pictures, it’s extraordinary! Steve, a single dad working full-time with two children, couldn’t find a place to rent. The family eventually found themselves living in his car, after exhausting their savings staying in a hotel. Then the family of three entered Family Promise. We’d like to say that everything was downhill from there, however, challenges abounded! But things did get better, much better. A partnership with a generous church allowed Family Promise HCR to secure an apartment for Steve and his family! Now they have their own place, with their own beds, AND coordinating curtains. This represents a successful example of guests, Family Promise HCR, and local partners working together toward self-sufficiency! As we know, this family is not alone. Many in our community struggle for a variety of reasons, one of the main ones being a lack of affordable housing. The father from the story above agreed to be interviewed by CBS 21. That story is here. Our guests are our heroes. We see them every day, watch how they struggle, and see them keep trying anyway. It inspires us to keep going. It inspires us to do our best. Our families are why we’re here. They are our heroes.

We All Need Community by Matthew Wagner

When I was growing up, we ALWAYS seemed to run into someone my Dad knew (even when we went to Florida for vacation one year). It drove us NUTS!!! Now, my children are experiencing the same thing…All they want to do is get done our errands and go home, but here I am talking to this stranger (to them). However, as they’ve gotten older, they’ve come to realize that my connections can sometimes be useful.

We recently had a question about what to do with some money my son had saved from working over the summer. A quick email to a financial advisor friend of mine provided the clarification we needed and showed my son the value of relationships.

One of the trends we see with families experiencing homelessness is a lack of those relationships. For one reason or another they don’t have someone to turn to for financial assistance in a crisis, or for counsel and advice, or for suggestions on where to go for expertise. Sometimes, our families don’t even have a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, or a voice to say, “It’s going to be ok.”

That’s one of the beautiful things about Family Promise HCR. (Yes, I do recognize that I’m biased!) Through our Interfaith Hospitality Network and the engagement between our volunteers and our families, we see these relationships created.

Often that interaction leads to relationships forming between them that carry on long after the families move out of the program. For example, one of our families developed a strong relationship with St. Peter’s Lutheran in Middletown. St. Peter’s was one of the first churches the family stayed at, and ever since then, the family has been back several times for services. In fact, the oldest child has started helping prepare communion, and the family plans on attending services even after finding permanent housing.

It is these types of bonds that will make the biggest difference in the success of the family after they leave our program. The relationships they form with our volunteers are the “secret sauce” to their continued success and one of the reasons that our program has such a high success rate (over 65%).

Unfortunately, post COVID, we (and every service organization I’ve talked to) are struggling to find the volunteers needed to provide those relationships. With that in mind, if you are part of a community-minded organization, faith-based organization, scout group, business club, social or community service organization, sports team, knitting group, (or any other group!), please consider asking your group if we can come and share the difference you can make in the lives of the families we serve. I guarantee you that not only will it help the families on their path from homelessness to home, but it will be a blessing to them along the way…even if it may drive their kids a little crazy when they run into the family around town.


Family & Program Updates by Stacey Coldren

A Key to Starting over as a Good Tenant

“When I moved into my first apartment after being homeless, it was a shock. I understood what a lease was, but I did not understand the language or my rights as a tenant.”

As someone who was homeless for many years, moving into my own home was exciting but scary on many levels. I remember when I signed my lease, I was so confused and overwhelmed by everything I was reading. I didn’t understand the language they were using or what my actual rights were as a tenant. I learned overtime and had an incredible landlord who helped me to navigate my way through the first few months of living on my own.

The fear I had is all too common for many families that experience homelessness and have to start over again. This is why Family Promise HCR offers a program called “Keys to Good Tenancy.” This program helps to provide families with the knowledge and skills to become good tenants. During the program the families will learn by addressing many elements, including leases, budgeting, home repairs, renter’s rights, neighbor relations, and more!

Please check out this article from Family Promise National for more information about this terrific program.


Get Involved! by Susan Ryder

We love to talk about Family Promise, and throughout the year we get to do that at local events and festivals. If you’d like to talk with folks about Family Promise too, we’d love to have you join us and engage the public. It’s as simple as smiling, giving folks a flier, and telling them what we offer local families. Contact Susan Ryder (susan@familypromisehcr or 717-737-1100) for more details.

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Welcome to our summer update. You can read below the full story for each section of our summer mailer, or just pick and choose what you’d like to learn about more. Thank you for your generosity!


Our staff met Dustin a couple years ago at this point. He was at his lowest of lows but always looked on the bright side of things. At that time, our program could not take in another family, but we were able to help find him another program that would benefit him in the long run.

It was roughly 6 months later that we received a call from Dustin, and he wanted to know if there were any openings for him and his son. He called just in time! Paperwork was filled out, and Dustin was back in action!

While Dustin was in Family Promise HCR, he found a stable full-time job and childcare for his son. A little over a year since he graduated from Family Promise HCR, he is working the same job and now has a bigger apartment for his family! We even had a surprise visit from Dustin a month ago! He looked happy and seemed to be enjoying his day off from work. He said that he was also up for a promotion at work! Getting to see Dustin enjoy life and work hard to get stable was a blessing.


“Volunteers are love in motion!”

Author unknown

While we may not know who said this, that doesn’t make it any less true. From spending time with our families to preparing meals to driving to being on the Board or a committee, it takes almost 3,000 volunteer hours a year to keep our families together! If you are a volunteer, thank you for showing your love to our families. It is their interaction with you that makes the biggest difference in their lives.

As we are recovering from COVID, we need to re-establish our volunteer base. To facilitate that, we have created a volunteer form, which can be found (here) so that we can better advise you of volunteer opportunities with Family Promise. If you currently volunteering through a congregation and would not like to volunteer in other capacities, first of all, THANK YOU. Second of all, we’d like to know that so that we don’t bug you about other opportunities. If you are interested in volunteering outside of your congregation, we’d like to know that as well so we can let you know when those opportunities arise.

We know that you volunteer because you want to make a difference in the lives of the families we serve, and we know that is enough for you because you are amazing! But to show our appreciation for all you do, we are going to do a drawing and will have some prizes to give away. To enter, all you have to do is fill out the volunteer form (Volunteer Form ( No obligation, no pressure…just our way of saying THANKS! All entries between 4/1/2022 and 7/31/2022 will be eligible. If you have any questions, please contact us at 717-737-1100 or


As a 10-year-old, life is hard. Add in being homeless, and you’ve just increased the stress level a huge amount. Not for Kyle, though! Kyle loves basketball and hanging out with his friends after school.

Life took an unexpected turn, and Kyle's family came into Family Promise. During the family's time in FPHCR, Kyle was able to practice basketball in the evenings at the host sites.

We recently spoke with a volunteer that helped host one of these weeks who said, "Kyle was always happy and kind. He met everyone like he was already their friend. I knew a volunteer who had a kid close to Kyle's age, so I asked if they could come along and play basketball for a bit one evening. You should have seen Kyle's face! His smile was huge, and we all loved to hear the laughter coming from the gym."

When Stacey, the program manager, arrived at the Day Center each morning, she would find Kyle sitting at the kitchen table watching his tablet and having a pop-tart. She was always met with a smile and a, "Good morning!" as she went into the building.

While Kyle's family was in FPHCR, he was able to finish out his basketball season and was even able to have some time to spend with his friends after school. Even though his situation may have been different, he still smiled and always had a great attitude toward the world. Soon after they arrived at Family Promise, Kyle and his family could move into their own apartment, and he even got his OWN ROOM!


We’re hosting another Night Without a Bed event this year. This event is super fun event and raises money (which goes directly to helping families like Kyle’s and Dustin’s) and awareness around the issue of family homelessness. This event can be done on your own or as a part of our in-person option this year. So, how do you get started?

1. Mark your calendar: October 8-9.

2. Make a plan: will you participate at the church with us (Grace UMC Lemoyne) or at home? Where are you going to sleep that night?

3. Let us know: RSVP on our website so we know you’ll be there.

4. Mention it: spread the word! Invite and tell friends and family – the more the merrier!

5. Recruit a team. Everything is more fun in a group, so recruit a few friends to join you!

6. Raise funds: get sponsors for this event or make a donation yourself to help every child have a home. Once you sign up, you will receive a fundraising packet with more information.

7. Share it: share pictures, videos, etc. on social media, and tag us! (#NWABharrisburg)

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