“What is…Family Promise?” That would be the answer to Paul Trifiletti’s description of his volunteer work during contestant introductions on an episode of the popular tv quiz game show Jeopardy! in March. When asked about his volunteerism, Trifiletti described his work with Family Promise of Athens, GA. Show host Alex Trebek summed up Trifiletti’s comments and Family Promise’s mission, “The important thing is to enable [families] to get out on their own and find permanent housing.”
Trifiletti belonged to a community service organization in college that assisted the homeless population. Since last year, he and his wife have been involved with Family Promise, often helping break down and clean up spaces after families have moved from one host site to the next.
“I remember one time helping with a family’s storage bin and thinking, ‘Those are all their belongings,’ ’’ he recalls. “I know it’s tough, but I’m glad Family Promise is there to assist them.”
While in Los Angeles taping Jeopardy! (Trifiletti was on five episodes), he observed what homelessness can look like in a larger city. He saw areas densely packed with tents serving as shelters.
“I’ve always understood that homelessness is an issue,” he says. “What appeals to me about Family Promise is that they’re not just giving families temporary shelter but providing sustaining assistance. Their philosophy is ‘We’ll help you until you don’t need help.’”
Trifiletti is concerned about the impact the COVID-19 health crisis is having on low-income families and notes that during a recession those at the bottom of the economic scale are always hit the hardest. He believes Family Promise is more relevant than ever during this time and hopes the situation turns around quickly so families can focus on regaining independence.
Trifiletti appreciates the Family Promise model of people coming together to serve families and feels it really connects the community.
“Athens has a pretty high poverty rate, and where there’s poverty, there’s going to be homelessness,” he remarks. “For all our differences, we all want to help people in need.”