As part of our ongoing conversation on homelessness, we asked members of the Family Promise network and individuals working to serve families experiencing homelessness to share their personal thoughts and reflections on Family Promise and the issue of family homelessness. These writers are true thought leaders, using their skills and expertise to develop and implement creative solutions that are changing the lives of parents and children in their communities. This post features The Feeney Family. Regina Feeney is a member of the Family Promise Board of Trustees and Griffin Feeney served as an intern at Family Promise Union County.
They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but Regina Feeney never imagined it could have such an impact on her family’s life. Ten years ago, she learned about the crisis of family homelessness at a Family Promise breakfast and knew that her family could help.
Since then, the Feeneys have supported Family Promise and families in the Union County program (FPUC). Regina is also a Trustee on the national board. The family has found volunteering in the shelter program especially eye-opening.
“We’re all doing the same thing – dinner, homework, we sleep on a cot then get up for work and school. The difference is, for us, it’s just one night; for families in the program, it’s all they have,” Regina says. “As a family, it helps us appreciate what these families are going through.”
Regina and her husband Bernard believe it’s important for the family to volunteer together and say Family Promise has changed the face of homelessness for them. Certain moments stand out, like the time their eldest daughter Hannah, who studied Spanish in school, helped a Spanish-speaking child with homework. Or when they installed bunk beds for a family moving into their new home and received a letter saying how excited the sons were about their new beds.
“You get to know these families,” says Regina. “You have empathy for them. And you stop taking so much for granted.”
Son Griffin agrees, adding that he especially loves move-in days.
“The families are so excited. It’s great to be part of that, help make their transition as smooth as possible,” he says.
The Feeneys participated in the Tri for Family Promise fundraising race this past summer, raising more than $5,000 to help give children new bikes. The siblings have volunteered with the Summit High School Family Promise Club, FPUC’s Girl Scout troop, and at the FPUC offices. The Feeneys enjoy connecting with families on many different levels – from basic needs to basketball clinics to installing bunk beds.
“Family Promise addresses all the aspects of homelessness. That’s the best way to do it,” Regina says.