Jesus made many promises during His ministry. Some of these concerned his own resurrection, others pertained to future prophecy, and some were directed toward those who followed him. In Matthew 10:42, he makes one of the most interesting where he promises a reward even for someone who gives a cup of cold water in his name. A cup of water isn’t a lot to share, but God does not overlook even this small kindness.
How much more reward awaits those who go beyond water to provide food, shelter, and love. This is exactly what Family Promise of Shenandoah County has been doing over the past three years for homeless children and their families, and we look forward to doing it for many years to come.
Since we began hosting in February of 2016, this relatively small ministry has provided shelter for 44 families that included 154 individuals, 93 of whom were children. Altogether, we provided 7,644 nights of safe secure lodging and at a conservative estimate of $50 per family per night for a motel room; this would amount to over $102,000! In addition, meals were also provided to these families at no charge.
One of the unique goals of FPSC is that of helping families avoid future homelessness through case management. Our current tagline is “Bringing Families Home,” and describes our mission perfectly. Professionals work with clients to help them find housing they can afford and sustain.
Over the last three years, 24 adults secured or maintained employment while in the program and the same number of families found housing they could sustain. Because volunteers at churches interact with the guests, relationships were also established that provided emotional and spiritual support as well as networking opportunities and friendships. This ministry is becoming even more intentional with the launching of The Open Table model of mentoring and assistance for guests. With this concept, individuals from the community work specifically with one family to help them reach goals and not only meet needs but to thrive.
God has provided in amazing ways by working through his generous children and churches. Compassionate donors have supplied a van to transport guests, and others helped to renovate the Family Center where guests take showers, do laundry, and receive counsel. At present, two apartments have been provided to help two different families make the transition from shelter to sustainable homes.
In addition, many churches either host the guests in their facility one week each quarter or assist others in doing so. Volunteers provide meals and stay overnight while still others help with fundraisers, administrative duties, or child care. With over 700 volunteers contributing a combined total of over 50,000 hours, the value of time donated has already surpassed $362,000 if only valued at minimum wage.
When the full worth of all the services and benefits are combined, FPSC has already provided over a half million dollars of service to some of the most needy in our community at no cost to local, state, or federal governments. That’s a pretty big cup of cold water! Thanks to all who have been and are involved in this critical ministry of Jesus.
On March 23, FPSC is holding our fourth annual Steak Dinner and Silent Auction at the Woodstock Moose Lodge from 4-7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 each and can be purchased by calling the Family Center at 540-459-4599. Many high-quality items are available for bid at the auction and others will be sold outright. If you have something to donate, please call the above number as soon as possible.
In addition, host and support churches, volunteers, mentors, and donors continue to be needed on an ongoing basis. Churches that may not be able to host in their facility can provide funding to provide motel accommodations. If there’s a way you or your church would like to offer cold water or more, please call the center. We can all work together to Bring Families Home! Blessings, George