Hi! If you’ve visited my blog before, I thank you and appreciate you taking the time to read my little ol’ words. Repeat readers may notice I’ve been working on a new “look.”
The truth is, I’ve been struggling to find a balance between staying informed and acting on the big, important, difficult things going on in the world, while also longing to occasionally rest and sit in some positivity. But when I turn to things that bring me joy, I worry that I’m not paying enough attention to the “right” issues. It’s hard to let yourself feel happy when you know someone else is suffering. (Why work on writing any fiction; what does any of that matter?) But I think I was forgetting a very important fact: sharing light is a great way to drive out darkness.
So, I’ve decided to create a space to share stories that say “look – here is something good!” Because while there’s a lotta darkness going on, there is a also a lot of light. And each one of us has the ability to create more light.
To that end, the blog portion of my website has a new title: Encouraging Words! I’ll use this space mostly to highlight good people, good work, and good things happening in our world. I hope when you visit here you’ll always find some nugget of encouragement that may help your own little light shine brighter, too.
Today I want to tell you about an awesome national program: FAMILY PROMISE. Their mission statement is “to help homeless and low-income families achieve sustainable independence through a community-based response.” Their website shares the staggering statistic that this year in America, 2.5 million children and their parents will experience homelessness. Family Promise supports a “local response to this national crisis, helping families build new lives.” The goal is to identify the ‘newly homeless’ — people who have just fallen or are about to fall through the cracks of any other safety nets, and help them get back to sustainable independence quickly (families are usually in the program about six -eight weeks).
Here’s how it works:
A network of volunteers from any faith-based community step up to open their physical building one week at a time, on a rotating basis.
“The resources are already there. In the community there are congregations that can provide space in their buildings to serve as temporary homes. Day centers, where families can take showers, receive case management and look for housing and jobs, can be located at a house of worship or agency. There are multiple options for transportation to get families from the host congregations to the day center and back. With volunteers giving their time, making meals, and sharing hospitality, family homelessness is addressed without the creation of expensive shelters. Across the country, people have realized that this innovative approach truly makes a difference for families experiencing homelessness—and more than 180,000 volunteers.”
A friend of a friend has worked hard and can now proudly say that her dream of a functioning Connecticut affiliate of the program is up and running. I’ve been working on a steering committee to help my own faith community explore becoming a Family Promise host. Let me tell you, it’s very encouraging to have something to do about an issue that feels overwhelming. So I’m hopeful we’ll be able to help, even if it’s just a few families at a time.
Just after learning about Family Promise, I got my hands on two ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) of middle grade books which deal with the topic of families that are struggling to find secure and permanent places to live. Reading both of these beautiful novels really helped me understand how important even the smallest act of kindness can be to people who find themselves newly homeless.
JUST UNDER THE CLOUDS (Knopf Books for Young Readers) by Melissa Sarno is coming June 2018.
From the Penguin/Random House website:
An uplifting young reader debut about perseverance against all odds, Marie Miranda Cruz’s debut Everlasting Nora follows the story of a young girl living in the real-life shantytown inside the Philippines’ Manila North Cemetery.
After a family tragedy results in the loss of both father and home, 12-year-old Nora lives with her mother in Manila’s North Cemetery, which is the largest shanty town of its kind in the Philippines today.
When her mother disappears mysteriously one day, Nora is left alone.
With help from her best friend Jojo and the support of his kindhearted grandmother, Nora embarks on a journey riddled with danger in order to find her mom. Along the way she also rediscovers the compassion of the human spirit, the resilience of her community, and everlasting hope in the most unexpected places.
I encourage you to preorder both books for yourself, your kids, or your local town & school library! I’ll be getting a copy of each to donate to Family Promise.
I also encourage you to look around for one thing you can do to help support the homeless in your own community. All over the country, there are many great organizations already in place and doing good work, but they always appreciate fresh volunteers and donations!
Have a good day, light-makers.