F is for Family…but this spring in Las Vegas it also stands for Friends. On March 2, children from Family Promise of Las Vegas (FPLV) were visited by their Sesame Street friends, Elmo and Abby Cadabby, as part of the Sesame Street: F is for Friends mall tour.
When Sesame Street reached out to Terry Lindemann, Executive Director at FPLV, she knew immediately she needed to get involved. She leveraged her existing community partnerships to coordinate a space and ensure that as many children as possible could benefit from this opportunity. And benefit they did: the children danced with Abby and Elmo, sang “If You’re Happy and You Know It!”, and posed for pictures with their furry friends. Even the moms joined in!
According to Terry, this wasn’t just a great opportunity for the families but also for the Affiliate. The event resulted in a front-page picture in the Nevada section of the Review Journal, as well as a mention in Aww…Moments’ with Maria Silva on the local Fox 5 station. “This publicity is important.” said Terry, “It gets Family Promise’s name out into the community. Coordinating events like this leads to new volunteers, new donors, and new community partnerships. An organization cannot grow if they aren’t known by the community they serve, so every mention increases knowledge, builds capacity, and gets Family Promise closer to meeting its goals.”
Terry reiterated that it was important to build partnerships like this at every level, from community groups to nationwide organizations like Sesame Workshop. These nationwide organizations are especially important, since they can benefit all Affiliates. Terry’s initial connection started conversations at other Affiliates for future tours and Terry is excited to continue developing this partnership in Las Vegas, as well.
Say hello to our newest Affiliate…Family Promise of Whatcom County (WA), which opened its doors on April 2 to families, as our fifth Affiliate operating in the Evergreen State.
While completing their first week was an important milestone, their journey started at a community meeting two years ago. At that first gathering, organizers set out 30 chairs, with the goal of filling each seat with a potential volunteer. This goal was far exceeded, with over 200 people in attendance, representing 30 faith communities.
Family Promise Task Force Chair Barbara Mathers-Schmidt has continued to be inspired by the community and its drive. Volunteers on the leadership team gave countless hours researching new funding sources and then preparing grants to support case management. There has also been an outpouring of support from the congregations, with 28 on board for the opening (13 hosts and 15 supports) and 500 trained volunteers already. Barbara explained that discussions about Family Homelessness have brought more awareness to the community, spurring people to action.
When asked where they saw their future, Director Sarah Lane said, “Our goal at Family Promise is to expand our reach and programming in collaboration with our community partners, the Interfaith Coalition, providing complementary services and support.” The Interfaith Coalition is a non-profit organization that manages multiple programs with the goal of eliminating homelessness and poverty in Whatcom County. During the 2015-2016 school year, 981 students in Whatcom County were identified as homeless, so additional services through Family Promise will be beneficial.
Sarah acknowledged Whatcom’s debt to their neighboring Affiliate. Family Promise of Skagit Valley acted as an important resource in their development and served as a model for what the new Affiliate could be. Moving forward, their vision is to coordinate and share resources to better serve both communities.
We wish Family Promise of Whatcom County the best in supporting their community!