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Family Promise Blog


One of the most common misconceptions about homelessness is that it is an individual issue; that a single person or family determines their own fate and only they can prevent themselves from reaching a position where they experience homelessness or recover once they have reached that point. But this is truly not the case. The impact of a community support system can have a significant effect on homelessness.

This is true not just on an issue-to-issue basis (providing financial support, necessary healthcare resources, food, and clothing) but applies to the shared role all of these things can play in helping families recover from homelessness. As members of one community, we are all responsible for taking care of one another. We should do everything in our power to aid those in need.

How Communities Can Help

By helping families get proper care and find reliable sources of income, several of the primary roadblocks to finding housing are removed. Long-term economic struggle and illness are some of the leading causes of homelessness, so limiting their continued impact on the population experiencing homelessness is key.

There are many practical ways in which communities can support families experiencing homelessness and aid them on the road to finding housing. Financial donations, healthcare support, and aid with resources such as food and clothing may be some of the best ways a community can help. Donating food, clothing, and essential toiletries is very important, as many families experiencing homelessness are in need of these vital supplies during their search for stable housing. One opportunity to collect these supplies is through organizing community drives. These types of drives can help neighbors, co-workers, and places of business come together – creating both teamwork and social responsibility. This can also create a conduit for businesses to provide charitable job/skills mentoring and training, or healthcare services. An active and engaged community can play a pivotal role in providing families with the resources they need.

One of the best ways an individual can help families experiencing homelessness is by volunteering their time and talent for a local organization like Family Promise. As many individuals are passionate about helping those in need, their impact can be amplified by working with a community group that is already working toward that goal. Volunteering is fulfilling and provides real value, as one of Family Promise’s volunteers states:

"I will continue to be involved because I believe it is a valuable program that helps families to move from homelessness to home by working with them on important life skills and relationship skills."

- Kathy, FPHCR volunteer since 2010

The Power of One, Or One Hundred

While each action is extremely helpful on its own, the way these actions come together is just as important. Each feed into the other, providing varied and widespread support.

For example, if a person experiencing homelessness is looking for a job, the first step is to help them fulfill that need through job boards, skills training, mentorship, etc. But from that point, they may not have the right clothes or have transportation for the interview, which could prevent them from acquiring the position. This communal cooperation is key in supporting families to reach their eventual goal of finding housing.

There is no one way in which a community can completely solve homelessness. It is a complex issue that requires complex responses. That is why attempting to solve many of its key areas at once is a necessary and useful step. And when one part of a family’s journey to finding housing becomes easier, every other step follows along. An active community can play a pivotal role in providing families with the resources they need. And together, we can all play a part in accomplishing that goal.

To volunteer or donate, please visit

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.

  • 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

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