Misconceptions & Commonalities – The local branch of a national non-profit seeks to help families out of homelessness
It’s tempting to assume that every homeless person is essentially the same, but that’s not the case. Some are victims of mental disorders and addictions, while others have fallen on hard times. Some are hardworking, diligent and talented. And some, with no one to turn to, are forced to bring their children into homelessness along with them.
Family Promise is a national non-profit with a simple yet massive goal: to end family homelessness in America. They strive to do this by working together with congregations of various denominations to provide food, housing, childcare, job-seeking support and more to homeless families. Beginning in New Jersey in 1988, at the time known as the National Interfaith-Hospitality Network, Family Promise has since grown to involve over 150,000 volunteers all over the country, including in Santa Clarita.
The Santa Clarita branch of Family Promise opened on June 5, 2011. By day, the homeless families taken in by Family Promise go to the resource center in Canyon Country. By night, the families are taken in by congregation members of partnering churches. “It’s free of cost, everything we do,” said Chris Najarro, the executive director of Family Promise of Santa Clarita Valley, “Shelter, meals, case management, counseling, laundry, showers, transportation and personal care items.”
But the goal of Family Promise isn’t simply to take care of homeless families – it’s to help them escape homelessness. For example, one day a single father with three boys came to Family Promise for help. They were given shelter not just for the sake of feeding and housing them, but so that the father could focus on tackling the issues that cause homelessness, namely a lack of time and finances. While the family stayed there, the father’s income increased, his car was repaired and his mental health issues were addressed. By the end of the family’s time at Family Promise, they had found a home, as well as the resources for that home.
“If you get to know each individual family and hear their stories, you may hear some commonalities, but in general each story is very different. The leading up to homelessness is very different, “ Chris said when asked about misconceptions regarding homelessness. Contributing factors of homelessness vary, with some more preventable than others, but when it comes to homelessness families, there are some crucial commonalities: the children need to be fed, sheltered and given hope that things will get better.
Those who want to learn more about Family Promise of Santa Clarita Valley can visit their local website at www.familypromisescv.org or the national website at familypromise.org. Those wishing to contact them can call them at 661-251-2868. They’re open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Mondays through Fridays, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays, and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays.
A Night in the Box with Family Promise!
Box City is intended to raise money and awareness for Family Promise of SCV and the work they do to help local homeless children and their families. Participants spend the night in a cardboard box at Valencia Heritage Park, to simulate what it might be like if that was the only place they had to call home. The event is open to the public and all ages are welcome.
Participants who register online in advance pay $25 and on-site registration the day of the event is $30. Many participants register as groups and build their own box “villages.” This is a great service opportunity for everyone from youth soccer teams and scout troops to school and church groups. “Residents” are asked to raise a minimum of $100 in pledges from family and friends.
All donations go directly to Family Promise to support our homeless families. Participants will receive a Box City t-shirt and a simple brown paper bag dinner and will enjoy live music, prizes, games and awards for the Best Box Architecture & Design. The Box City resident who raises the most money will be named Mayor and receive a key to Box City.
For more information on how to participate, volunteer and/or donate visit www.FamilyPromiseSCV.org.
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