When Faith Community United Methodist church in West Chester was looking for new ways to support missions within Butler County, they discovered that there was a need to provide shelter and services for local children and families experiencing homelessness.
In 2016, Family Promise of Butler County was born with the mission to serve displaced children and their families by, “providing shelter, food and comprehensive services that will help them in increasing their income, gaining housing and getting stabilized so that they are successful when they move out,” says Executive Director Linda Smith.
Family Promise of Butler County Inc. is a network affiliation with National Family Promise, which has 203 networks in 42 states and has supported over 68,000 homeless family members.
There are currently 1,354 homeless school-aged children in Butler County, ranging from age six to 18, and 600 to 650 homeless children between birth and age five.
To date, Family Promise of Butler County has helped 69 families, 129 children and 80 adults.
The current 12 congregations take turns hosting families for one week, providing food and shelter. Families are bused to the Day Center in downtown Hamilton each day, where they have access to showers, laundry and computers. They work on résumés, apply for jobs and take classes to learn financial literacy, good tenancy and more.
“We give individuals and families the tools that they’re going to need in order to be successful when they get out,” Linda explains. “We’re here to listen. We’re here to direct them to other areas if they need it. And I think that’s part of our collaboration with other social service agencies that’s been very effective in serving our families.”
The average length of stay for a family within the program is 68 days and they currently have an 87 percent success rate for graduating from the program into affordable housing.
“I think one of the biggest successes is that children are attending school every day, are not missing out on classes and are able to get homework done, have access to showers, are well-fed and don’t have to worry about where to sleep,” says Linda. “Last year, all of our school-aged children graduated and moved onto the next grade.”
As a newer organization, a big challenge is simply getting the word out and letting the community know what services Family Promise of Butler County provides. Another is donations, as they are not government funded. According to Linda, they are always accepting financial support and donations of personal care items.
Family Promise builds a community around families to give them a place to call home.
In 2020, Family Promise of Butler County hopes to:
Grow to 18 host congregations to better serve homeless families. The program is heavily driven by volunteers.
Develop programming around social issues like anti-bullying.
Add nutritional programming for families on a tight budget.
Take steps to own their own Day Center, as they are currently leasing space.
Help Family Promise meet these goals and quash homelessness in our county. FamilyPromiseButlerCounty.com