Although a lack of affordable housing is the most common obstacle facing the families we serve, Family Promise strives to provide a truly comprehensive set of services to help them get back on their feet. From financial literacy to childcare to transportation – Affiliates across the country create targeted initiatives to address specific challenges in their communities.
In New Jersey and Florida, Affiliates are developing innovative and proactive approaches to help families monitor their overall wellness and build healthy lifestyles.
Family Promise-Union County (NJ) has been developing a comprehensive Family Wellness Program to assess and address the needs of the families they serve. It includes:
- A partnership with Overlook Family Medicine providing weekly health education classes for all families in the Family Promise program. A rotating group of volunteer physicians and other professionals, led by Dr. Christina Johnson, facilitate the class each week, focusing on various health topics.
- Two Community Health Fairs each year.
- A Family Wellness Case Manager, to assess and maintain the health needs of all family members.
- College of Saint Elizabeth doctoral level counseling—18 clinical hours per week on Saturdays, for current and graduate families.
On September 24th, they hosted their first Community Health Fair in Elizabeth, New Jersey. The Overlook Medical Center Health Avenues Bus was on hand, to help with diabetes and blood pressure screenings. Students from the College of Saint Elizabeth Dietetics Program provided nutrition information, and a delicious buffet of healthy food.
Geleen Donovan, Director of the Family Promise-Union County program, was delighted by the turnout of both the volunteers and the participants. “In addition to the free health screenings and information, we welcomed people to sit and linger, enjoy good food and good company. We should rename this event to the ‘Health Fair Café!’”
Dr. Johnson added, “It was the realization of a dream to see such a positive response from all of the community partners. Our goals were to provide important health screenings for some of the top health priority areas in the county, and to promote wellness in our community. I think we achieved those goals and I look forward to our next Health Fair in the spring.”
And down in the Sunshine State, Family Promise of South Palm Beach County (FPSPBC) recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of its launch of CARE – Counseling, Assessment, Referral and Evaluation – as a supplemental program to the traditional case management services it provides.
The trauma and stress homeless families experience can have profound, long-lasting effects on both mental and physical health. Many family members are overwhelmed by feelings of anxiety and depression and don’t have the support they need to cope with these issues.
Jennifer Raymond, Program Director at FPSPBC and a licensed mental health counselor, recognized the need for mental health counseling services and developed CARE. Each FPSBC guest receives a mental health evaluation upon entering the program. Several Masters of Social Work interns from Florida Atlantic University then provide weekly, individual counseling for guests, focusing on mental health. If a medical issue is discovered or if medication is required, they refer guests to the appropriate organization, agency or medical facility.
Through CARE, FPSBC has provided in excess of 900 counseling hours during the past year to current guests and graduates. According to Jennifer, “It is a blessing to our families to have a program they can turn to receive the mental health support in a loving and caring environment. Many of our graduates continue to return for services because they do not see it as counseling, but a loving support system that continues to embrace them regardless of the situations they are experiencing.”