This week we have a guest blog about important issues for people of faith from our Council President, Doug Odell – Take a moment read, won’t you?
What would you do if you were suddenly cast out of your home and had to live in your car or on the streets? Over fourteen hundred people in Marion and Polk counties are in that position right now. This includes families with children. How did they get there? Illness, loss of employment, unwarranted evictions, or lack of transportation are some of the many factors that lead to homelessness.
How can we help the homeless, especially the children? One solution started almost twenty years ago when Pastor Doug Dobson of Holy Cross Lutheran met with other community leaders to found the local chapter of Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN). Churches banded together to give families a place to stay with food on the table and the resources necessary to get back on their feet. Folks just like you slept overnight in their churches alongside homeless families. Others brought in home-cooked meals to provide comfort and nourishment. Their mission statement then and now is:
We are congregations practicing hospitality to stand together against homelessness and
to see lives changed; including our own.
A couple of years ago our local chapter of IHN changed its name to Family Promise to align itself with the national organization. Family Promise still runs the IHN program, now working with thirty-eight congregations who either host or support the network. Family Promise has expanded its scope: stabilizing families before they lose their homes, caring for family pets, and staying in touch after families find a home to ensure they prosper.
A Record Week
This approach provides results. Family Promise recently set a new record, with seven families avoiding homelessness or finding new homes in just one week! This kind of success in a tight housing market is because we all have come together to solve homelessness. Families who enter the IHN program have a ninety-five percent success rate. Over two thousand families have been placed in the history of the program.
What You Can Do
We know what the solution to homelessness is: Community. There are ways you can get involved. Why not contact me (Doug at 503-856-5151) to help out at Holy Cross Lutheran, or contact the Family Promise Day Center at www.familypromisemwv.org. Some day you, too, might proudly proclaim, “My pastor likes it when I sleep in church!