“Our job doesn’t end with creating Affiliates. Our focus every day is on helping them march towards excellence.”
Family Promise President Claas Ehlers.
While the creation of Affiliates is a key goal for Family Promise, much of the national office’s time and resources are spent on helping Affiliates maximize their potential. A dynamic, energized Affiliate excels in making a real and lasting difference in the lives of the families it serves. Family Promise of Greater Roanoke, Virginia (FPGR) is a perfect example.
When Marie Muddiman became Executive Director in 2011, the Roanoke Affiliate had been in existence for nearly fifteen years; they were a staunch member of the local effort to fight homelessness. Muddiman said, when she started, “Families were being provided a safe, warm place to stay while they searched for permanent housing. Congregations were providing the love and care that they are so good at providing. But through our initial review, the board and I came to understand that we still had a long way to go to get where we wanted to be.”
Muddiman reached out to the national office for help. Family Promise dispatched national associate Kathy Stockburger to evaluate the Affiliate and assess its needs. Working closely with its board, Stockburger guided them towards the development of a rigorous strategic plan. The plan called for a restructuring of their board and outlined steps to greatly increase their community engagement. Their goal was to go from good to outstanding—and to change many more lives in the process.
Just months after taking over as director, Muddiman attended her first national conference and found it invaluable. “I learned more at my first Family Promise conference than at any conference I’ve attended in my career,” she said. “In fact, one key lesson led directly to the creation of two new units of housing for graduate families.”
FPGR continues to make good use of Family Promise’s regional support structure, hosting national staff on a regular basis. According to Muddiman, national associate Tom Cioffi’s training on recruiting congregations was, “phenomenal.” He convinced the board that it has to be a full-time, year-round effort. His visit totally changed the way we approach recruitment.” And they also work closely with Jeanna Beck, their regional director. “When I need something, I can always call on her,” said Muddiman. Beck is currently advising them on options for a new Day Center as well as training their case management team on best practices in volunteer engagement.
And Roanoke takes advantage of Family Promise’s national partnership with Woodforest National Bank. It has developed a joint program with the local branch; utilizing Woodforest employees as financial literacy trainers, using Family Promise’s New Beginnings curriculum developed through the national partnership. All current guest families take part, with former guests eligible to participate, as well.
“The total accessibility of the Family Promise national office has helped us move from where we were when I started to where we are now,” said Muddiman. “They’ve provided intensive support, but always with acceptance if we were not yet ready to take a particular step. They’ve always been there to hold our hands through our growing pains.”
And grow they have. In the past five years, FPGR has:
• increased its budget from $158,000 to $280,000,
• doubled the number of families served annually,
• improved their rate of permanently housed families from 42% to 85%, and
• decreased their families’ average length of stay from 72 days in 2011 to 46 days in 2015.
It’ an incredible success story and Muddiman has good reason to be proud. But she doesn’t take all the credit. “We couldn’t have done it without national. Nowhere else I’ve worked provides these types of resources. We’re immensely thankful for their support.”