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Creating Community and Learning New Skills

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.


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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.


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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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