Letter to the Editor: Family Promise to begin serving community soon
Mark Shields’ editorial on the Opinion page of the Northern Virginia Daily on Oct. 12 addressed the “national disgrace” of children living in poverty — now more than 15 million children in the United States. Often life below the poverty line (an annual income below $24,418 for a family of four) results in homelessness.
Already this school year the Shenandoah County Public Schools division has identified 15 homeless students. During the 2014-2015 school year, that number reached 49. Statistically, for every one child who is identified as homeless, approximately three more are unidentified because they are not yet enrolled in school, or because the parents fear reporting their homelessness.
Over the past two years, citizens of Shenandoah County have been working to address the problem of child homelessness in our community. Family Promise of Shenandoah County is a new affiliate of Family Promise, a national faith-based program that focuses specifically on helping homeless children and their families achieve permanent housing. Family Promise was founded in 1988 and since that time local affiliates have served more than 600,000 homeless families through a network of local church congregations supported by more than 160,000 volunteers. Because of intensive counseling and case management, more than 75 percent of the families served by Family Promise find housing in less than five weeks.
While in the Family Promise program, participants will be overnight guests of host churches where they will receive shelter for their families, meals, and a safe environment in which to parent their children. Guidance in job procurement, budgeting, and life skills will take place at the Family Center. Because of intensive counseling and case management, more than 75 percent of the families served will find housing in less than nine weeks.
Without our many generous community supporters, Family Promise of Shenandoah County would not become a reality. The Family Center, located in the former free clinic in Woodstock, is under renovation and we are on schedule to begin serving the community at the beginning of January 2016. Every child deserves a home, and working together we can make that happen!
Karen Walton and Mary Ann Barbee, board members, Family Promise of Shenandoah County