“We prayed to God for a place to stay,
And Family Promise came our way.
We are the face of Family Promise.”
This short poem was shared by Sikrett and Shahiyda, two former guest children in our Union County program, at our 7th Annual “Our Promise to Children” Breakfast at Canoe Brook Country Club in Summit, New Jersey on May 13. The sisters were just two of the “Faces of Family Promise” who shared emotional testimony during the event about how the organization has touched their lives.
The breakfast in support of Family Promise programs locally and nationwide, was attended by nearly 300 people, a record crowd which filled the room to capacity and beyond. While there were many familiar faces, we were thrilled that more than half of the attendees were new to Family Promise. The morning’s program served as a perfect introduction to these new friends while also serving to engage current supporters.
Board Chair Cary Hardy served as emcee and recounted the history of Family Promise—from Founder Karen Olson’s chance meeting with a homeless woman on the streets of New York City more than 27 years ago to our remarkable growth into the nation’s leading volunteer-driven nonprofit serving homeless families, with 189 Affiliates operating in 42 states nationwide.
Karen Olson shared her personal vision of the work Family Promise is doing and what remains to be done. She explained how we utilize existing community resources to connect people who want to help with people in need: houses of worship for temporary shelter, Y’s and other local facilities to serve as Day Centers where our staff works with families to build their skills, and hundreds of volunteers to provide the compassion and care that make Family Promise unique.
But she also noted the 18-20 calls we receive each month from people wanting to start an Affiliate to meet the dire needs in their own communities. She said, “Because of limited resources, we can only begin to work with one or two. I wish we could do more. Because, you see, I know how Family Promise changes lives—the lives of the families we serve and our own lives.”
The most impactful moments may have come when former guests told their stories. Samantha Green, who was a client of our Warren County, NJ Affiliate, was overcome with emotion as she thanked the organization for all they did for her and her family when they had no place left to turn.
And Solomon, a teenager who spent time with his mom in our Morris County shelter, described how Family Promise allowed him to feel like a normal kid despite his family’s challenging circumstances. Beyond assisting them with finding an affordable place to live, volunteers provided financial support so that he could afford a varsity football jacket, a yearbook and a class ring. They made it possible for him to attend senior prom with the rest of his classmates. And they even helped him purchase a car so he could find a job and pursue college in the fall. He has since started classes at the County College of Morris towards a degree in sports journalism and works 4-8 am every day at UPS to help meet his expenses. Solomon summed his experience up by saying, “It made me understand that if I keep a positive mind set through a negative situation, it makes everything better. I also learned about the true impact of supportive people during a rough time. I just want to say ‘thank you’ to the volunteers and everyone connected to Family Promise for being there for me and my mom.”
Family Promise would like to thank each and every one who attended for their interest and their most generous contributions. And we would also like to recognize the support offered by our corporate sponsors, without which “Our Promise to Children” would not have been possible. Sponsors included: