In honor of Black History Month, Family Promise is spotlighting Black Family Promise staff members, board members, volunteers, and clergy who are making an impact in their respective communities.
A tragedy forced Takisha Clark to seek help from Family Promise.
“My house burnt down,” Clark said. “We became homeless. Family Promise of Lawrence (KS) took us in.”
After entering Lawrence’s shelter program, Clark did her best to maintain a semblance of normalcy. She made concerted efforts to help volunteers with cooking and cleaning. She said she wanted to hold onto a piece of motherhood that is temporarily lost while you experience homelessness.
“The volunteers always made me feel important and allowed me to continue to provide for my kids,” Clark said. “They made me feel loved and wanted. The word family meant something different to them.”
The Executive Director at the time of Clark’s stay at Family Promise encouraged Clark to share her story with the Lawrence community. Her path into homelessness was unlike any other family, which made for a compelling pitch for community members to get involved: homelessness can happen to anyone.
“A lot of people are one unforeseen circumstance away from homelessness,” Clark said.
Clark eventually graduated from Lawrence’s shelter program and moved into a new home with her kids. But before leaving the program, she became a volunteer coordinator at her church. She convinced the clergy to make the church a Family Promise “supporting” congregation.
Two years later, she switched churches and became a volunteer coordinator there. As she became more familiar with the church, she realized they had free space that could be used by Family Promise families.
“I asked my pastor if we could turn the basement into a Family Promise Center,” Clark said. “We wound up renting the fourplex to Family Promise!”
Clark remained active with Family Promise until the current Lawrence Executive Director, Dana Ortiz, approached her three years ago about becoming a board member. She said, “yes!”
“I love every part of being a board member,” Clark said. “My portion of being on the board is that I have lived experience. I went through the program, so I can say this works or doesn’t work. I appreciate being able to bring a different perspective.”
Clark says she will be forever grateful to Family Promise for the support and opportunities they provided her and her family. She is also proud of how much the organization has grown over the years.
“Family Promise is a staple in Lawrence now,” Clark said. “We’re providing families support. We’re saying, ‘here are resources you can use to get to the level of having your own home.’ That’s the goal. It’s very important, and I’m very grateful to be a part of it all.”