COVID-19: Affiliate Spotlight – Family Promise Union County

March 27, 2020

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.

Virtual reality isn’t just for video games anymore.

Unprecedented times call for creative measures, and Family Promise Union County (FPUC), NJ, has developed some unique ways to ensure families stay as healthy and safe as possible during the COVID-19 crisis. Staff is providing case management and fielding calls from remote locations, while families are staying in temporary “bedrooms” in First Baptist Church of Elizabeth, NJ. A volunteer purchased a Netflix subscription to offer kids and families more entertainment options during this period of in-place shelter. And staff is currently car shopping online thanks to a generous donation to purchase three vehicles for families.

Since the call for “social distancing” currently has an unspecified end date, FPUC is working with local landlords to temporarily move all four families in its shelter program into vacant apartments. Donations will furnish the apartments with beds and basic household necessities.

FPUC sent out surveys to its nearly 80 graduate families in the area to determine needs during this crisis, and more than half indicated they would need some sort of assistance, so the organization is working to provide appropriate support. FPUC is also exploring a buddy system that will pair graduate families with volunteers for two-way support.

“The idea is to have families there for each other and let them share their experiences with one another,” says Executive Director Geleen Donovan.

Since the COVID-19 crisis calls for remote interactions, graduate families have a private Facebook page they can use to be in contact with each other. FPUC is looking into producing some webinars for families, graduates, and others in the community covering topics like healthy cooking, an educational info session on the COVID-19 health pandemic, and more. The intention is to keep families feeling connected and ensure their needs are met during a potentially isolating period.

Learn more about Family Promise’s response to COVID-19 here.

Dial 211 to find more resources near you.