Every day, Family Promise Affiliates make a difference in the lives of local children and their parents. But sometimes the Family Promise “family” bridges many miles.
All it took was one late rent check for James, Nadine, and their two young children to lose their apartment. Although the rent was paid shortly after the due date, they were evicted with nowhere to turn. It was a traumatic day, but as James sees it now, it was the start of a new life for his family: it was when they found Family Promise of Waukesha County (FP-WC), WI.
At first, they were unsure. Having never experienced homelessness, James and Nadine had to overcome some common misconceptions about emergency shelter: Family Promise wasn’t a big gymnasium filled with beds; they wouldn’t be staying in an unsafe neighborhood; and most important, the family could remain together.
“Everyone was welcoming,” says James. “It took the embarrassment out of our situation.”
Since both parents had steady jobs, their finances were in good order. Family Promise helped the family navigate schools, child care, and even the maintenance of their car when it needed repairs. With their children in mind, Nadine and James participated in Family Promise’s nutrition workshop to learn about healthy cooking, and they began to look for a new home.
They didn’t have to look long. A relative offered them a house, but there was a catch: the house needed lots of repairs, and…it was in Louisiana. It was a golden opportunity for the family, but James wondered how to make it work.
That’s when Erin Pechacek, FP-WC case manager, put the “family” in Family Promise into action.
“I thought about how Affiliates around the country are in this together, working toward the same goal,” she says. “So, I contacted the closest Affiliate to the family’s new home, which turned out to be only six miles away!”
After two months in FP-WC’s emergency shelter system and lots of communication and planning between the two Affiliates, the family headed to Family Promise of Ouachita Parish (FP-OP), LA, where executive director Shawn Keyser was waiting for them.
“Erin had prepared us, so it was a smooth transition,” says Keyser. “We enrolled them in the benefit programs they needed and figured out schools, jobs, and child care.”
Eager to be in their new home, James and Nadine began work on the house and soon moved in. Family Promise helped furnish the home, and Keyser and other FP-O staff and volunteers pitched in with various repairs.
“It’s amazing how all these people who never met worked together to give this family a whole new life,” says Pechacek. “We were there for each other, and that made all the difference.”