COVID-19: Affiliate Spotlight – Family Promise of Blount County

April 17, 2020

At Family Promise, desperate times call for creative measures.

The COVID-19 crisis has been a proving ground for Family Promise Affiliates, volunteers, and partners across the country as service providers resort to unique and creative measures that ensure vulnerable families to continue to receive the support they need while working to regain independence.

Over the next several weeks we’ll be highlighting the unique ways Affiliates are serving families battling homelessness during this challenging time.

Family Promise of Blount County, TN, has received a grant from the local chapter of the United Way to ensure the four families in their transitional housing program who are financially impacted by the COVID-19 crisis don’t experience any setbacks. The United Way will cover the families’ rent payments for the next three months, enabling them to keep their focus on the road ahead.

A child at Family Promise of Blount CountyExecutive Director Caroline Lamar says the families have only been in transitional housing for about six months and are still working with Family Promise to maintain stability.

“These families are just one foot out of homelessness. They’re still vulnerable and need our support,” she says.

Lamar shared the story of a mother employed by a shopping mall cleaning service. While shopping centers have temporarily closed, the company is still providing service to the mall, but chances are this won’t continue much longer. Every morning, the company texts its employees with work instructions for the day, and the mom anticipates those texts will stop coming soon.

“That uncertainty is just another stress for families,” says Lamar. “We’re concerned with families’ emotional wellbeing, not just their financial wellbeing.”

She adds that volunteers have really stepped up to the plate even though they haven’t been able to help in person. Volunteers have donated necessary supplies like toilet paper, paper towels, and nonperishable food items, and when the Affiliate asked for puzzles and games to help children stuck at home pass the time, Lamar says donations poured in.

“We had crafts, games, puzzles. The kids swarmed around me when I showed up. I felt like Santa Claus!” she says.

What has been one of her most memorable moments so far during this crisis? Lamar recounts a conversation she had with a mom about finances during this challenging time. Referring to extra funds the family might have after all expenses were paid, the mom said, “I can put it into savings.” That was music to Lamar’s ears!

“That’s our goal,” she says. “They’re paying rent, buying food, but also saving to get ready to go out on their own. The fact that she was thinking that way told me we’re doing our job.”

Learn more about Family Promise’s response to COVID-19 here

Dial 211 to find more resources near you.