Summit, NJ – October 2, 2020 — Over 2,000 members of the Family Promise network from across the U.S. gathered virtually this week to share learnings and plan for the future at our first Virtual Innovation Summit. Participants attended workshops on important topics from training on homelessness prevention and shelter diversion to fundraising during a pandemic and managing a team virtually. Check out some of the highlights from the event below.
Attendees Brushed Up On Their Skills at Workshops
Workshops were held on Zoom throughout the two-day event. Sessions focused on topics relevant to current challenges Family Promise Affiliates are facing in their communities. One session that drew a large audience was “A Dialogue on Race and Equity,” which centered on how housing policy, homelessness, and structural racism are woven together. The session was facilitated by Rev. Gladys Moore.
Claas Ehlers Shared An Overview of What Family Promise Achieved in 2020 and His Vision For the Road Ahead
Family Promise CEO, Claas Ehlers, kicked off the conference with a keynote address welcoming attendees and highlighting the amazing ways the Family Promise network has come together this year to innovate and serve families. He was joined by National Board Chair, Leah Griffith, for a Q&A facilitated by national staff member, Kaela Kennington.
“Claas’s intro was warm, informative, and inspiring and the following sessions I attended were all the same. Getting lots of good feedback from staff, board, and family members who are all in attendance. While I miss the in-person interaction, it is wonderful to share with more of our network,” said Sue Crossley, Executive Director of Family Promise Metrowest.
Our Guest Advisory Council Taught Us About “Coming From a Place of Yes”
Claas moderated a plenary session with GAC members, Rebecca Esparza, Yusuf Kalule, and Hope Johnson. Each shared their lived experience and expertise on how guest services, volunteers, and Affiliate structures can all benefit from an empowering mindset. “Every family comes to the door from an incredible journey — an incredibly difficult journey. Just because guests enter the door of Family Promise doesn’t mean the difficulty is over. We have to invest in families and see the value in each and every one of them,” Rebecca said.
Shane Claiborne Closed the Event with a Keynote on “Tearing Down the Walls”
Shane Claiborne, the founder of The Simple Way and a prominent speaker, activist, and best-selling author, gave the closing keynote address. He encouraged the Family Promise Network to keep finding innovative ways to serve families, even during difficult times like the COVID-19 pandemic. “Don’t let fear keep us from doing what love might ask of us,” Shane said.
The Northeast Region Once Again Earned the Title of Game Night Champs
Wednesday night’s game night looked a bit different from previous Family Promise conferences, but for the second consecutive year, the northeast region took home first place. Participants gathered on Zoom for a night of trivia and networking.
Looking Forward: Las Vegas
Without the coronavirus pandemic, our network would have gathered in Las Vegas this week for an in-person conference. We are looking forward to rescheduling this event in the future.