George Bowers Sr.: Celebrate Family Promise Week!
Colorful leaves and cooler temperatures both remind us that the warm days of summer are in our rearview mirror for another several months. Crisp nights make us appreciate our warm beds and comfortably heated homes.
The approach of winter should also remind us of those who don’t have the basic necessity of shelter from the harsh elements. Individuals and families that have been living in tents, automobiles, or even in the open during the summer are now facing the challenges of finding better arrangements for wintertime.
October 16-22 is National Family Promise week and we are celebrating what God has done in bringing this vital ministry to fruition in our area to help such families. While Family Promise of Shenandoah County has only been operating since the beginning of January, as of Sept. 1, eleven families with 23 children and 14 adults have been or are being served with over 1,638 nights of lodging and 3,276 meals. This has been accomplished through God’s grace and the combined efforts of over 30 county churches representing 14 denominations and independents cooperating to be the hands and feet of Jesus. A big thank you goes to each church and individual who has been a part of these first several months!
Family Promise of Shenandoah County provides lodging in host churches on a weekly rotational schedule throughout each quarter of the year while support congregations help with meals, supervision, and funding. Guests are transported to the Family Center in Woodstock each morning where they take showers, do laundry, and receive case management to help them get back into homes they can sustain. The intent is to provide a hand up and not a hand out.
God has richly blessed us with competent and caring staff members. Our executive director, Sherry Arey, and our administrative assistant, Diane Miller, work with each family to ensure the best strategies for long term success, and our van driver, Rick Kessler, transports the families to and from the churches and provides other services as needed.
Family Promise of Shenandoah County is not a permanent home, but we do give families a routine and safe, warm places to sleep. In addition, other families not in the program have received furniture and assistance in locating needed resources to keep them from becoming homeless. Although there have been and continue to be challenges, God has been faithful and there have been many wonderful experiences along the way.
We are very grateful for the outpouring of support and help from many, but the needs are great both financially as well as for volunteers. Family Promise of Shenandoah County receives no tax monies or government grants and is entirely dependent on the support of churches, individuals, businesses, and community foundations.
As we continue to serve homeless children and their families in Shenandoah County, we invite you to partner with us. There are a number ways you can do that, including volunteering, discussing the possibility of your congregation becoming a host or support church, and direct financial support. All are vitally needed in order to continue this important work of Jesus here in the valley.
We will be sharing important updates and current information at a community meeting that will be held at Antioch Church of the Brethren at 7 p.m. Tuesday. All are invited to come and catch up on recent developments and future plans.
As the leaves change, homeless families are staring down the imminent realities of fall and winter. If you would like to help them, please contact the Family Center at 540-459-4599 or come to the meeting. If you would like a presentation for your church or organization or would like to be added to our email list for updates and announcements, please contact us at the number above. You can also keep up to date by following Family Promise of Shenandoah County on Facebook and at our website, shenandoahfamilypromise.org.
Let’s take the opportunity of National Family Promise Week to celebrate what God has done and continue to explore ways of improving these efforts in the future. Join us in this important work of God!
George Bowers Sr. is the senior pastor of Antioch Church of the Brethren in Woodstock and the author of seven books, including his devotional collection, “Blessings.” He can be reached through www.georgebowersministries.com or at firstname.lastname@example.org.