What’s Happening Now at Family Promise!
Eight years ago, our Blount County community came together and said, “Yes, there are homeless families here and we want to help them!” Thanks to your support, Family Promise of Blount County has grown from a shelter program to now include Bridges transitional housing, an earned vehicle program, and Going Home, Staying Home (where we stay connected with our families for 12 months after they move to permanent housing!)
During this time, however, we’ve also outgrown our day center space that we share with Green Meadow Church, and have prayed for our own dedicated space. We’re excited to announce that we have a new day center at the former Bungalow Methodist Church on Middlesettlements Road in Maryville.
We have a few months of renovations ahead before we can move, but we are excited about the new opportunities we will have in our own building! Click HERE to support the future of Family Promise!
You ARE Family Promise!
What an amazing journey! In late 2013, our Family Promise Executive Director Kathi Parkins and Board of Directors identified the need for additional transitional housing in Blount County. Many of our shelter families could not afford the high cost of local rental housing, which was causing financial hardships that could potentially lead to homelessness again. While we were blessed to use two donated houses, we needed additional locations for more families. Wanting to alleviate this need and continue to provide that necessary bridge for our families, our ED and Board soon began fundraising for this special need. At our very first Heart for the Homeless banquet in 2014, our dedicated donors gave well over $40,000 to seed this need. Then, just a very few weeks later, a quadplex in Alcoa became available at foreclosure price…just what we needed at that moment. Through the faithful donations from private donors, a generous legacy project donation from Leadership Blount, and donated labor from our local volunteers, Family Promise opened the Grant Street Quadplex in February 2015!
Our shelter program continued to grow, and our transitional housing program added a new loaned home, thanks to Peck’s Memorial United Methodist Church. Our first family moved into the Peck’s home in November 2015.
Now, we’re moving forward into the future with an expansion of our aftercare program. Starting in 2016, our Going Home, Staying Home program will offer practical training sessions, incentives, and support to families who move from our shelter or transitional housing to permanent housing. By supporting our families for 12 months after they leave our program, we will improve their long term success. With 15 host churches, 15 support churches, and over 1,000 volunteers providing excellent care for our families in our shelter program, we are truly ending family homelessness in Blount County…one family at a time!
Blasts from the Past!
2012 began with the “Point In Time” count to attempt to capture the homeless population in Blount county and the work of Family Promise continues. More families continue to call the office looking for assistance and guidance as they face being homeless. We are expecting babies #2 and #3 in February or March to join their families in the program. A new part-time staff member provided needed transportation around town for our families, and we added a new staff member as Case Manager in March. In May, we were awarded a Venture Grant from United Way to launch the Family Promise Academy. We hosted the Second Annual Pig Roast in June to celebrate our birthday. More wonderful things are happening at Family Promise as the year winds down.
2011 was a very busy year. By the numbers, we helped 21 families for a total of 82 individuals, including 48 children. The average length of stay in the program was 53 days. In April, we learned we had been chosen as a United Way partner agency. In May, we held our Pig Roast fundraiser which was enjoyed by more than 250 people. The very first family moved into a transitional house in September. We also saw the very 1st baby born in our network. “Laura” joined us Oct. 27. Also, It was so exciting to watch Josh walk across the stage in his cap and gown on Dec. 15. to receive his GED …another 1st for our network. Finally, Pleasant Hill UM, Eusebia Presbyterian and Alcoa First Baptist joined us as supporting congregations.
In August, we hired Kathi Parkins as the Executive Director and a new case manager. By the end of 2010, with the sincere devotion of our staff and volunteers we have been able to assist more than 100 individuals, including 65 children, since beginning service in June 2009.
In March 2009 renovations began at the day center site, specifically to make the restroom facilities universally accessible. That same month, Family Promise of Blount County hired its first Executive Director. Throughout Spring 2009 host and support congregations continued to come on board, and our first round of volunteer trainings occurred. On June 21, 2009, Family Promise of Blount County opened its doors to homeless families in our community!!
In Spring 2008 the Day Center Committee began visiting possible sites for the Family Day Center. In June 2008, Family Promise received a United Way Venture Grant as a start-up agency in Blount County. The next month, Jeanna Stewart, who had led our efforts since the beginning, passed the torch to board chair, Susan Hughes. During Summer 2008, the board was developed, and the first board meeting was help in September 2008. In November 2008 Green Meadow United Methodist Church became the future site of our Family Day Center. And finally, in December 2008 Family Promise of Blount County’s 501(c)3 status was approved!
In Spring 2007 the Blount County Ecumenical Action Council began discussing the need and importance of helping homeless families in the Blount County community. In October 2007, Family Promise National came to Blount County to do an assessment and found that there was a need for an interfaith hospitality network. In that same month, the first community-wide meeting was held for people interested in the program. The national representative said that it was the most attended meeting he had ever seen in his tenure with Family Promise. In Winter 2007, Family Promise received a generous donation of a 15-passenger van for transporting guests.