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 Hall County, GA, had plans well underway to renovate and build an addition to their current space when the reality of the COVID-19 crisis kicked in. The goal was to have the Homestead Campus – a 20,000-square-foot facility that will house Family Promise offices, a daycare center, food bank, family apartments, and space for workshops and case management – operating in early May.
But then the coronavirus hit the country, and as businesses began to close down the Affiliate had to press “pause.” A few weeks into life in the time of COVID-19, however, Executive Director Lindsey McCamy says there might be a silver lining to the health crisis after all.
“We were going to have to close down our daycare center, which also serves kids in the community, and we were worried about parents finding other options. As it turns out, with businesses closed now and most people quarantined at home, it’s been a good time to start packing up the daycare center without inconveniencing families,” she explains.
The Affiliate currently has three families split between their shelter and transitional housing programs. Parents from two of the families have lost their jobs because their employers closed down, however, one couple has actually seen a significant increase in work – they’re employed at a local grocery store and have managed to get additional shifts.
Since the shelter-in-place mandate was implemented, the staff has been checking on families regularly.
“The mental health piece is a big concern,” McCamy says. “We want to make sure everyone’s got everything they need, that they’re doing ok.”
Volunteers have donated the contents for “blessing boxes,” packages of whatever a family needs, such as food items, infant formula, cleaning supplies, and more. They’ve also been providing families with meals. The Affiliate has always been part of a “diaper bank” that supplies diaper and baby wipes to those in need in the community, and they’ve set up a diaper distribution program that resembles the curbside pickup service many restaurants have adopted in recent weeks. One of the moms in their program speaks Spanish and has offered to serve as a translator for the many Hispanic families picking up supplies.
In addition, the Affiliate has been supporting graduate families and those who participate in its L.I.F.E. (Local Initiative for Family Empowerment) program, a life skills workshop series for Family Promise families and others in the community.
“When this is all over, I think there will be so much need in the community,” says McCamy, speaking in particular of emergency shelter and homelessness prevention programs. “We need to be prepared so when that surge comes, we’re ready.”