Saturday, July 24, 2010

Update from the Director Tamikah Gowans

We have some exciting new developments & enhancements under way at Family Promise!

We received a grant from the Laffey-McHugh Foundation and also recently received a significant unexpected gift from St Albans Episcopal Church!  We are so appreciative of these financial gifts!

We have built a new relationship with a new transitional housing program being launched in Middletown, DE. This program will hopefully be taking in one of our families quite soon and is part of our strategy to work cooperatively with homelessness service providers available in our area.

We have formed a new partnership with YWCA on Kirkwood Highway. The network families will be able to take advance of their wonderful facilities.

We have plans under way to upgrade our Family Promise Center, including a playset for the children and a ramp for handicapped access to the center.

We still have some needs at the Family Promise center for in-kind donations and volunteers:
Weeding & flowerbed work around the FP center
Air conditioner (window unit)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

An Interview with the Gillettes and Millers

We sat down for a few minutes to talk with Jen & Marty Miller and Pastors Bruce & Carolyn Gillette of Limestone Presbyterian (the Gillettes are seated in the center).  Fun fact:  Pastor Carolyn is quite the accomplished songwriter - you can find her music on!

Jen & Marty have been active in Family Promise since early 2009 as part of the Core Team to help launch the network (Jen is also a deacon at Limestone Pres).  They are both very busy with their careers, Marty in finance and Jen in education, also working on her doctoral degree.  Despite their schedules, they enjoy their key role in Family Promise.  As Marty states: "we are so busy in our 'normal life' but we make time to for Family Promise."

Pastor Bruce has been familiar with Family Promise since 1993. In fact, two of his former congregations in New Jersey have been actively hosting homeless families as part of their local Family Promise networks.

Limestone Presbyterian has a history of involvement in homelessness causes, with strong ties to both Elkton, MD-based Meeting Ground and the Delaware-based Friendship House.  Pastor Bruce clearly sees Family Promise as complementary to these tremendous organizations, as volunteers become directly engaged with homelessness in the comfortable environment of their own church.  In fact, he believes this will motivate more members to be involved with other homelessness organizations.  Another of Pastor Bruce's motivations for joining Family Promise is found in the biblical passage John 17, where Jesus prays for the unity of believers.  When we asked what advice our Limestone Presbyterian members would have for prospective congregations, Pastor Bruce stated "the best way for us to be closer to God is to what God calls us to do."

Limestone Presbyterian & St. John The Beloved Catholic Church team up for Family Promise

This week we visited host congregation Limestone Presbyterian Church who teams up with supporting congregation St. John The Beloved Catholic Church to care for our families. Shown in the picture is Limestone Presbyterian featuring the first solar power installation on a church in Delaware, their contribution to stewardship of the environment.

On our way in, we caught Tim Jooste of Limestone Pres hard at work helping with the major renovation of the Limestone Pres sanctuary.

When we arrived, Joann Paupe (SJBC), Jen Miller (Limestone) and Sister Kathleen Ruszkowski (SJBC) were busy getting dinner ready for the families.  Generally, SJBC provides the meals and Limestone Pres provides the hosting space - so it is a great partnership between the two churches.  Jen & Marty Miller were part of the organizing core team early in 2009, and Sr Kathleen was one of the original organizing members of Family Promise from 2008.  Fun fact: the Limestone Presbyterian volunteers give the SJBC cooks an A+!

George Alicknavitch of SJBC is new to the Family Promise volunteer team, having just safely completed his first time driving the Family Promise van!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Case Support Team to increase our client services

The Family Promise Case Support team has been formed and will be meeting monthly. The volunteer team consists of 2 credentialed mental health counselors, a medical and family social worker and a primary care physician: the team will be meeting monthly and also serve in an advisory role with the Executive Director in a confidential, peer review capacity to identify unmet needs of and identify services for our family/guests.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

An Interview with Andy Clark (co-coordinator at WCC Pres)

Andy Clark is one of the co-coordinators for Family Promise at WCC Presbyterian.  He has had a passion for the homeless for quite some time, especially as winter would hit and he would think about homeless people out in the cold.  He contacted a homeless shelter, but couldn't find quite the right way to "plug in" and help.  Andy was thinking "in this bad economy, there has got to be a way for our church to help the homeless directly."  However, the challenges were deep, how to even get started?

Andy heard about Family Promise through another church that was joining, Limestone Presbyterian Church, and came to an information session we held there in early 2009.  After hearing about Family Promise, Andy worked with his pastor, (soon to be) co-director Bev McFarland, and others at WCC Presbyterian to bring Family Promise to their church.  Andy feels that Family Promise is a way to involve a large group of people at their church (~50), each in their own small way, to help homeless families directly. 

What would Andy say to other potentially interested congregations?  "It's easier than you think to get involved" he says, "with the program design, roles outlined well and a good division of responsibilities."  He also says "this is a very rewarding opportunity, for the volunteers and the families.  What I enjoyed most is seeing the laughing of the kids and the lifting of the guests' burdens.  This has been a very rewarding experience for the volunteers with a relatively easy time commitment."

Incidentally, Andy has an IT consulting firm and has provided his expertise to Family Promise - notably in setting up the computer system at the FP center.  Andy - thank you!

Bev McFarland is the other co-coordinator at WCC Pres. She was traveling in Alaska when we visited (sounds nice!) so we didn't catch her. Here's a "stock photo" of her from the WCC Pres website. Thanks Bev for everything you are doing!

White Clay Creek Presbyterian Host Week

White Clay Creek just finished hosting our families in their beautiful "Nurture Center" - which houses the offices, Sunday School rooms, full kitchen, dining hall and a well-equipped youth activities room.

We arrived early Sunday morning (7:00) and caught some of the volunteers for a few minutes to get some pictures and ask a few questions about the week.  Shown here are Bill Hall, Vern Kincaid, Donna Kincaid, Melissa Clark and Wendy LaManna.  Bill commented how friendly everyone has been.  Donna helped with setup & takedown.  Melissa is the supplies coordinator (she got everything on sale!).  Wendy has been busy organizing - her only regret that she would have liked to have spent more time with the families.  She did get good feedback from the other volunteers.

Harold Rowland and Bill Hall are rolling up the beds.  We use inflatable beds that move from congregation to congregation.  It really is moving along pretty smoothly now that the congregations have worked out their logistics.

Nikki Vella and Harris Aungst were the overnight hosts.  Nikki was a bit sleepy but had a great time hosting the families, and provided dinner Saturday evening.  Thanks to everyone at WCC Pres who volunteered to take care of our homeless families!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Ebenezer United Methodist Church becomes our 12th host congregation!

Ebenezer United Methodist Church just became our 12th host congregation! We welcome Ebenezer to the network of congregations in northern New Castle County living out our faith serving homeless families!

Graduation, new families coming and a couple of needs

Family Promise friends, we are pleased to announce that we have graduated 2 more families from our network. However, we have a backlog of families waiting to join and expect 1-2 more families to join the network this coming week.

We have a couple of needs: It is hot! If anyone has a spare window air conditioning unit in good condition, please let Tamikah know ( The more we can rely on in-kind donations of goods, the more we can directly utilize your contributions directly to providing services to our clients. Additionally, we need a dehumidifier for the basement.

Hockessin United Methodist Church Hosts Family Promise

Kymm Hockman is very active at Hockessin UMC. She serves on the Family Promise board and several teams, and she is the congregational coordinator for Hockessin UMC. Here Kymm speaks about why she got involved in Family Promise and what it has meant for HUMC.