“People need a support system. That’s what I noticed about Family Promise. They guide people to their financial freedom so they can be successful.”
It’s not simply a roof overhead that creates a home. A combination of supports and critical skills are necessary to achieve independence, security, and financial stability. That’s why Family Promise addresses the crisis of family homelessness holistically, and its commitment to microenterprise* has been key to helping some families find this independence.
One of those families is Elijah’s.
Elijah’s family struggled with homelessness for a brief period when he was a teenager living in New York City. Fast forward a decade, when the family moved to New Jersey. They initially stayed with relatives as they made plans for a new home, but the transition wasn’t as seamless as they’d hoped. Fortunately, Elijah, now 28, his mom, and two younger sisters found Family Promise Union County, NJ, before things took a turn for the worst.
Elijah and his mom both obtained employment shortly after their arrival in New Jersey, and Family Promise’s emergency shelter program gave them the opportunity to begin saving money and making plans. Before long, the family was in their own home. That’s when Elijah, who has always had an entrepreneurial spirit, thought about building his own business owning and servicing vending machines.
Then, just as he was about to purchase his first piece of equipment, COVID-19 stopped him in his tracks.
“I knew with something like the coronavirus, that business wasn’t going to work,” he says. “So I adapted and changed the plan.”
He continued to save his earnings from his day job as he considered options. Combining his mechanical skills with his interests in property maintenance and transportation, he decided a moving and handyman business would be the perfect fit.
Elijah began researching everything from market demand to tax laws, and the first thing he purchased for his company was a truck. However, he didn’t have the funds for the tools and other supplies he’d need. That’s where Family Promise stepped in. Recognizing microenterprise as a means to regain and maintain stability, Family Promise helped Elijah acquire the materials he needed to get his business up and running.
Right away, he was hired for residential moves, including helping Family Promise Union County families who were graduating into their own homes. He also began doing small jobs with area contractors.
“Ever since I was a little kid, I felt like I was more suited to having my own business,” Elijah says. “Family Promise and my family have been really supportive.”
He looks back on the times he was without a home and appreciates Family Promise’s mission to empower families to sustainable independence.
“People need a support system,” says Elijah. “That’s what I noticed about Family Promise. They check off so many boxes about [how to help people]. They guide people to their financial freedom so they can be successful.”
*Microenterprise is defined as small business, especially enterprises with a sole proprietor and six or fewer employees.