Family Promise of Blount County homeless assistance program sees progress
By Joel Davis | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
As Christmas nears, Family Promise of Blount County continues its mission to give homeless families the gift of security.
The program allows local churches to provide overnight accommodations and meals for homeless families on a rotating basis.
Executive Director Kathi Parkins is pleased with the progress Family Promise is making locally. “Things are going extremely well,” she said. “Our new website is up and running. The community is really taking care of us at Christmas time.
“One of our moms is enrolled in the American Red Cross Certified Nursing Assistant classes and is about to graduate in a few months and start a new career.”
The woman, whose first name is Cindy, said, in information provided to The Daily Times by Parks, “For the first time ever I will have a real career, not just another dead-end job.”
The organization is a network of local congregations and volunteers that provide temporary shelter, meals and support services to families without homes to help them achieve lasting independence. It opened its doors in June 2009. It has served 25 families during 2012. This includes 46 children.
Green Meadow United Methodist Church serves as the day center for the program, giving families a place to stay during the day while they look for housing and work. It provides a stable telephone number, mailing address and a base of operations for participants.
Usually, the families in the program are facing homelessness for the first time in their lives due to job loss, medical conditions, financial problems or other tough circumstances.
Parkins is currently writing a proposal for a $238,000 Housing and Urban Development grant for permanent supportive housing. The project, Promises to Keep, is a scattered-site leasing project that will provide ongoing rental assistance and supportive services to formerly homeless families and individuals with a primary focus on improving job skills and developing and completing educational goals, she said.
Through a grant from the United Way of Blount County, the program is offering the Family Promise Academy, which is meant to develop and improve basic life skills for participants to maintain and sustain lasting stability.
The churches that have agreed to participate in the Family Promise network so far are Beech Grove Baptist Church, Broadway Baptist Church, Carpenter’s Campground United Methodist Church, Fairview United Methodist Church. First Baptist Church of Maryville, Forest Hill Baptist Church, Friendsville First Baptist Church, Maryville First United Methodist Church, Monte Vista Baptist Church, Mt. Lebanon Baptist Church, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, St. Paul Lutheran Church, Sycamore Tree United Methodist Church.
There are several support churches whose members have agreed to provide volunteers and other support to the program, as well: Alcoa First United Methodist Church, Bethel Baptist Church, Big Springs Presbyterian Church, Blount Community Church, Broadway United Methodist Church, Eusebia Presbyterian Church, Everett Hills Baptist Church, Friendsville First United Methodist Church, Highland Presbyterian Church, Middlesettlements United Methodist Church, New Providence Presbyterian Church, Friendsville Friends, Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church, Peck’s Memorial United Methodist Church, Pleasant Hill United Methodist Church, and St. John United Methodist Church.
The average stay for families in Family Promise programs nationwide is 52 days. Ideally, the families are in the program for no more than three months. The families are required to seek employment and housing. Failure to work toward independence means termination from the program. Families are referred to Family Promise through the school systems, social services and various nonprofit organizations.
For more information about Family Promise of Blount County, call 865-233-4737.