Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Hosting Week at Hockessin Baptist Church

We arrived at Hockessin Baptist Church to find a flurry of activity, from dishes being cleared to lunches being packed for the next day to active conversations and games being enjoyed.
Pictured here from left to right are: Dan and Jewell Boulet, Lynette Russell, and Marcia and Wayne Logan.

In addition to this group, dozens of volunteers are helping out this week - co-ordinating, providing transportation, cooking meals, and helping in many, many other ways.

If Hurricane Earl doesn't cause too much trouble in the area, the group is looking forward to going to the Wilmington Blue Rocks game on Thursday - but if the game is called for weather, then we can expect more engagement back at Hockessin Baptist Church.

UPDATE:  The weather held up nicely and the 3 of the 4 families enjoyed attending the Blue Rocks game with congregational coordinators Mark & Lynette Russell along with their son Grant.  At the same time, Ken & Kristen Grant stayed overnight and also hosted one of our families with a small child that wasn't up to attending the game.  Thanks to these dedicated volunteers! 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Westminster Host Week going smoothly with St. Stephen's Help!

This week we visited Westminster Presbyterian Church in the middle of their 3rd hosting week.  Everything seems to go quite smoothly as the families are enjoying the hospitality.  Upon arrival, we met Charlie McDowell who had just driven the families in our van from the Family Promise center.  Charlie and his wife Mary Lou McDowell, shown here, were with the families at dinner and settling in to be overnight hosts.

It was great to see the volunteers from St. Stephen's Lutheran making a wonderful dinner for the families.  St. Stephen's is one of our support congregations that is located very close to Westminster Presbyterian, so they have partnered to help provide this service to our families.  Shown here are volunteers Sally Dudderar, Sue Culley, Lynn Splittorff, and Sharon Potter.  Thank you for the wonderful dinner!

Rev. Anne Ledbetter has been a strong supporter of Family Promise (you may recall her testimony from the Cathy Carpenito dedication earlier this year). She is shown here with the McDowells and Theo Krapels (co-coordinator with his wife Janet).

We can't leave without mentioning Jeanne Checkel (pictured here with Theo). Jeanne runs the kitchen at Westminster Presbyterian and made sure everything was cleaned up and ready for the next day of hosting!

We are very appreciative of the support from Westminster Presbyterian to Family Promise.  Westminster members have made significant financial contributions, including the Cathy Carpenito Memorial fund, which were used to refurbish and prepare the Family Promise center during our launch phase.  Much of the furnishing for the center came from Westminster members.  Significantly, Theo Krapels has spent countless hours at the center adding a bathroom in the basement, building a new stairway to the basement, helping us to overcome a significant plumbing challenge, and is now building permanent shelving for our families to store their belongings.  Thanks to everyone for your support!

Friday, August 20, 2010

United Way Campaign

The United Way 2010 Campaign season is upon us.  Family Promise® is an approved write-in agency of the United Way, and our United Way of Delaware write-in code is 12433.  So, if you give through United Way, please remember us! 
 Here is a flyer that can also be posted in your workplace.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

St. Mark's UMC Hosting Week

St. Mark's is having a great hosting week! Currently they are hosting 3 families as one of our families just moved into their new home in Middletown and we await the arrival of the next family. On Tuesday evening, we met Congregational coordinators Patti Weaver and Denise Lawton. In addition we met Denise's husband George Lawton and volunteers June Wright and Linda Edler. June and Linda met and became good friends while attending the Alpha Course (a 10 week introduction to the Christian Faith) that is offered at St. Mark's.

Denise has been involved with Family Promise since 2008, during the formative stages. We asked her if she could see herself doing this 5 years from now - her answer was an unequivocal: yes! Denise recalls a dream she had about homeless families on the street and the church getting involved in some way to help them. A friend of hers asked: " why don't you join the missions team?" After Denise attended an organizing meeting at Aldersgate UMC, she said to herself "this is my mission."

St. Mark's has about 30 volunteers involved in some capacity this hosting week, with a few new people joining in as they have learmed more about Family Promise. They have volunteers come in to do crafts with the children, the families love the playground and basketball court, and the folks at St. Mark's do their best to make their church feel like a home. As Denise says about St. Mark's culture: "The first day you come here, you're a guest. After that, you're family."

Success for the Graham Family!

We're delighted to highlight the Graham family now that they have successfully graduated from the program and have agreed to speak publicly about their experience! They have successfully found a home in Middletown, DE.  Shown in the picture here is Tanya with her sons Anthony, Corey and Maurice.  Also shown below is Anthony helping Michael Glasscock remove weeds at the Family Promise center on his last day there.  Volunteer and Aldersgate UMC Congregational Coordinator Judy Evans transported the family to their new home this Saturday using the Family Promise van.  Here's a few quotable quotes from Tanya's open letter to Family Promise (paraphrasing):

"I will miss all of you.  I am still available.  If you need help, I'm available.  Please work the program.  And be successful.  See all of you at the Family Promise Reunion!  Friend to Friend, Tanya Graham.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Aldersgate Youth Group Tops off a great hosting week!

The Aldersgate UMC's youth group turned out in force Saturday night to make dinner for our families!  Shown here are the youth with Student Ministry Director Dave Ingalls (and Congregational Coordinator Judy Evans in the doorway).  Shown just below is Giselle preparing the spaghetti dinner.  Over the course of the weekend, the youth group is participating in it's "Feeding of the 5000" weekend, which consists of: feeding our FP clients, collecting cans of food for distribution to those in need, camping out at church, then working at the Sunday Breakfast Mission Sunday morning.  Sounds like a busy weekend!  By the way, Judy Evans handled all of the driving on Saturday, and took the Graham family to their new home in Middletown, DE (thanks Judy!).

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Interview with the Klesiuses and Ieriens

Shown in the picture here are Ralph & Lee Klesius surrounding (co-)Pastor Kathy Ierien with her children Rachel & Megan.  We had a chance to talk to these committed Family Promise supporters about their experience with Family Promise at Good Shepherd.  Pastor Kathy had much to say about the impact Family Promise has had on their church.  For starters, she believes that their involvement in Family Promise has raised awareness of homelessness and provided an opportunity for ministry right in their own church, locally.  In addition, she has observed that a number of people in their congregation have become involved - engaging a broader cross-section of than they would normally see in a ministry opportunity.  This has gone so far as some of their members raising interest to support Family Promise with their neighbors (we should also mention that a number of people at Good Shepherd are talking to other congregations about Family Promise and have a visit from another prospective congregation later this week).  Pastor Kathy quotes the Matthew 25:35  For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in.  She strongly believes that not only does Family Promise help us better understand homelessness and teaches us about hospitality, but also broadens our perspective on what it means to be the Church.

Ralph Klesius is always thinking about the schedule and ensuring operations run smoothly.  He tells us that this 2nd time is much easier!  (the first time hosting was a real learning experience for all of us!).  It is encouraging, he notes, that we are seeing new volunteers come on board with the 2nd rotation of hosting.  Ralph & Pastor Kathy both commented that Good Shepherd "won the lottery" with the opportunity to host Christmas week.  In fact, Pastor Kathy says she views this as a wonderful opportunity to provide this outreach during one of our most sacred times of the year.  On a related not however, Ralph commented that he would like to see us expand to include more congregations, including Jewish Synagogues, as we continue to expand our network.  In fact, this is one of the aspects of Family Promise that they find most appealing:  congregations of different denominations and faiths coming together in a common cause to care for homeless families.  Lee Klesius agrees:  it is the ecumenical aspect of Family Promise that she finds most appealing - getting to know those from other congregations.

After Ralph gave us a tour of the expansive facility of Good Shepherd, we ran into (co-) Pastor Bob Ierien in the office preparing for a meeting.  Pastor Bob has been a strong supporter and driver to bring Family Promise to Good Shepherd and is also helping to spread the word to other congregations.  Pastor Bob summed it up well:  "Our congregation has received much more from Family Promise than we have sacrificed for this ministry."  He then went on to conduct his business meeting and prepared to spend the night at church, hosting our families!

Visiting The Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd

This week our families are at The Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd.  This church has gone through a number of additions and building renovations, with so many Sunday School rooms and meeting rooms that one has to be careful not to get lost!  It is definitely a congregation blessed with a tremendous capability to support Family Promise through the volunteers and the wonderful church facility.  The volunteers there, led by congregational coordinators Ralph & Lee Klesius, are highly organized.  Just take a look at the entire section of their entry with a thorough display for volunteers to find information about Family Promise & sign up for volunteer opportunities.

We had a chance to meet with several volunteers who were busy preparing dinner for the families (did we mention we are running at full capacity?).  Shown in the picture are:  Ralph Kelsius, Pastor Kathy Ierien (co-pastor with her husband Pastor Bob Ierien), Joann Hasse, Betty Setterquist, Lee Klesius and Bob Hasse.

Interview with Jennifer, Allison and Dick of St. James Mill Creek

Shown in the picture here are St. James Mill Creek congregational coordinators Allison Jessup and Jennifer Idell, along with Dick Prettyman who has been our point-person for key matters related to the upkeep and enhancements of the Family Promise center.  Dick is a DuPont retiree who enjoys his time with family and fly fishing.  He has also spent many hours leading the renovation of the Family Promise center before we took occupancy.
Jennifer and Allison have been involved with Family Promise as members of our organizing core team many month before we launched.  Jennifer is also on our communications team and set up our Facebook page.  Both of them serve on the Vestry at SJMC.  When they heard about the opportunity to join Family Promise at a Vestry meeting, Jennifer raised her hand - feeling compelled to do something for those less fortunate.  Allison then soon followed, saying she would be glad help however she could.  Little did they realize at the time that they would become so involved with serving homelessness through Family Promise!

What impact has Family Promise had on the congregation at SJMC?  All three stated that they have had the opportunity to not only serve our families, but get to know and develop deeper friendships with other members of SJMC.  It seems that about 40% of the congregation at SJMC is involved in serving during a typical Family Promise week, each person doing their part.  Jennifer states:  "everybody who served wanted to do it again."  An observation about their experience with this second Family Promise rotation: "everything is much more 'laid back' this time around."  This is something we have been hearing from a number of congregations as they have worked through the learning curve.

While we didn't catch them this time, we must add that Father James Bimbi and Susan Winward of SJMC were both instrumental in working with us to establish the SJMC Rectory as the site of the Family Promise Center (along with Board member Andy Taylor, also a member of SJMC).  Again, thanks to the wonderful people at St. James Mill Creek for your support of Family Promise and the relationship we have developed through the use of the SJMC rectory.

SJMC Hosting Family Promise

This week we visited St. James Mill Creek Episcopal Church which is hosting our families at their activity center, across the street from their beautiful historic church building.  Shown in the background just behind the activity center is...the Family Promise Center!  We have developed a wonderful relationship with the congregation at SJMC during the months we have occupied the Family Promise Center.  It is a wonderful facility for Family Promise, and SJMC enjoys having Family Promise as the occupant of its Rectory.

When we arrived, we found a number of volunteers in the kitchen delivering and preparing meals for the families.  Allison Jessup, one of the congregational coordinators, states "this is one of the perks of Family Promise - getting to enjoy the great meals people bring to the center" as she was preparing to stay overnight with the families.  Shown in the picture are:  Mack Conaway, Paul & Sue Haefner, Kate Brewer, Carole Leach, Allison Jessup, Jennifer Idell, David Perry and Valerie Bragg.

David Perry serves as the dinner coordinator.  He evidently keeps pretty busy not only coordinating the dinners, but cleaning up dishes as well (at least he looked like he was hard at work while we were there!).