Family Promise of Lower Bucks Board members Betty Scheich and Rich Kelly spoke to more than two dozen parishioners on February 7th who heard about the way this nonprofit organization helps homeless children and their families.
In the fall, Family Promise representatives had spoken at each Mass about how they collaborate with congregations of all faiths to fulfill their mission. That initial “seed” took root and grew as parishioners began to explore how ABVM could become a “Host Congregation.” This meeting was the chance to gauge interest and learn more.
Family Promise operates a Day Center on Woodbourne Road where carefully screened homeless families (up to 14 people or 4 families) are taken each morning around 7 am. From there, the clients go to school or their jobs or participate in “training.” Around 5 pm, a van takes the clients to a church that serves as a Host Congregation for a week. The congregation provides space in a church building for FPLB cots for the clients to sleep and provides dinner, as well as food that the clients can use for the next day’s breakfast and lunch.
Currently FPLB has 11 Host Congregations (who house clients 3-4 times each year) and 9 “Support” congregations (who don’t have space but provide volunteers and food to the Hosts). Our initial vision for ABVM would be to schedule participation during the summer when PREP is not in session; therefore, space would be available in the empty school building. However, nothing can happen without volunteers.
Volunteer activities include providing and serving dinner, tutoring children, laundering sheets, and transporting the cots to the next location. Two volunteers are needed to be on site with the guests at all times, including sleeping overnight. Any adult who becomes involved with clients must have clearance and FPLB “training.” For example, someone just dropping off dessert and leaving would not need to be vetted but someone serving it to the guests would require official scrutiny. Volunteers are also needed to assist at the Day Center (especially on weekends), on the FPLB Board, and with other Host Congregations.
Training, provided at no cost by FPLB, lasts about 1 -1 ½ hours and is offered every month or two in various locations around the county. However, for our convenience, a session has been scheduled @ ABVM in the former school library (STAR) room on Sunday, March 19th, 1 pm.
If you have any questions or would like more information, contact Rose Jacobs, firstname.lastname@example.org, 215-364-8131 or FPLB executive Director Kristine Maxwell, email@example.com, (215) 943-0402. You can also find more information at http://www.fplb.org/.