Family Promise Bridges the Gap between America’s Dairyland and the land of Mardi Gras

July 9, 2018

James 1

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.”

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