Family Promise representatives from across the country—Directors, staff, board members and volunteers—gathered in Chicago October 24-26 for our 13th National Conference, Transforming Lives. More than 325 people convened at the Hyatt Regency Schaumburg for a full weekend of workshops, speeches, exhibitions and entertainment as we took a few days to connect with friends—old and new—and share experiences in the fight against family homelessness.
The Conference opened Friday with the announcement of the launch of New Beginnings, our financial literacy curriculum developed in partnership with Woodforest National Bank. Woodforest EVP and Director of Community Development Boyd Nelson addressed the Conference on Friday afternoon, affirming their commitment to community partnerships with Family Promise Affiliates nationwide.
At Friday night’s Opening Dinner, the Honorable Jan Schakowsky of the U.S. House of Representatives welcomed attendees to the Conference with her keynote speech addressing the economic challenges facing so many families in America today. She recognized the role Family Promise plays each day in the lives of those less fortunate, framing such work as a moral obligation we all share to help our neighbors in need.
Family Promise President and Founder Karen Olson followed Rep. Schakowsky and formally opened the Conference. She pointed out that in a country currently so divided along ideological lines, Family Promise continues to bring people together from all religions, political leanings and ethnic backgrounds to serve the common cause of helping homeless families.
Saturday morning’s highlight was our featured keynote speaker, Rev. Dr. Martin Marty, renowned religious scholar from the University of Chicago, editor of the Christian Century and winner of the National Book Award. Dr. Marty’s speech, Transforming Strangers in Family Promise, considered how our organization moves people from homelessness, helplessness and outsider-hood to family. He reminded us that the “Promise” in our name comes from the Latin, ‘promissio,” a mission that propels us forward.
Our second full day of workshops followed, covering a range of subjects from Affiliate fundraising to permanent and transitional housing solutions to the critical importance of aftercare for guests. The Conference featured sessions for directors, case managers, board members, developing Affiliate attendees, and Affiliate volunteers. There truly was something for everyone—the biggest challenge being choosing which workshops to attend from such a varied selection.
And, of course, the weekend wasn’t all work. Time was scheduled each day to kick back, relax and recharge, as well. Friday night featured a predictably hilarious Dancing and Lip Sync Contest. Saturday evening’s event was an exclusive night of improv at Laugh Out Loud, featuring talented professional comic actors as well as audience participation from Family Promise attendees. And, continuing a much beloved tradition, our Interfaith Worship Service Sunday morning, led by the Rev. Dr. Ann L. Rosewall, provided the perfect end to a stimulating and fulfilling weekend.