Everyone knows how busy a congregation’s campus can be. Sunday School, community groups, Bible studies and adult education (to name a few) all make up the weekly life of a church community. With that in mind, I would like to take a moment to send my sincere thanks to a number of congregations in the Presbytery of Los Ranchos for making space in their church homes to also serve homeless families in their community.
I am the Director of Family Promise of Orange County, one of 186 Family Promise affiliates nationally who partner with congregations to provide emergency shelter to families with dependent children. Since early 2012 four congregations– First Presbyterian Church of Fullerton, Irvine Presbyterian Church, St. Mark Presbyterian Church of Newport Beach, and Tustin Presbyterian Church have been our hosting partners in the Orange County area
Congregations provide space for four families to stay on their congregational grounds for four weeks out of the year. Each works with what open spaces they have available. Tustin Presbyterian uses a youth room, St. Mark their fellowship hall. Others use classrooms and even a choir room. But every church makes space to care for families who have none of their own. Congregation members also provide nightly meals, entertainment and hospitality while families are staying with them. Family Promise provides case-management and needed services for the families to insure they are able to regain housing and maintain it once they return.
Together the Presbyterian congregations above have provided 4035 bed nights and 11594 meals for families under their care, and 350 congregation members have logged 12924 hours of service. Most importantly, they have helped 270 individuals including 186 children return to housing and independence.
I would also like to make a special note of one congregation in particular – First Presbyterian Church of Fullerton. In addition to being one of our rotating host sites, in 2013 the congregation offered the use of a parsonage for the creation of a permanent transitional living home for families.
The program, which we call Jacob’s House, provides temporary housing for working homeless families that need an extra 4 -6 months of additional services before returning to full independence. The congregation helped us prepare the property, and regularly reaches out to include families in the life of the congregation. Their efforts alone help an additional 20-30 individuals return to self-sufficiency in a given year.
On behalf of the families that you have helped – thank you. Thank you for making space in your congregations. Thank you for reaching out and loving those who have so little. You are truly living out Christ’s command to care for the stranger in your midst. I am very proud to call you a partner.
Casey Crosbie is Executive Director of Family Promise of Orange County, Inc.