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Mission & Impact

Concrete Wall

Our Mission

Our mission is to help families experiencing homelessness and low-income families achieve sustainable independence through a community-based response.

Our Values

  • Hospitality

  • Empathy

  • Community

  • Dynamic

  • Innovative

  • Empowerment

Our Vision

Creating a community in which every family has a home, a livelihood, and the chance to build a better future.

Our History

The concept of Family Promise started when Stephen Larghi was invited on May 12, 2015 to Thornapple Valley Church's meeting room with all the Continuum of Care Services to discuss how Barry County had tried for ten years to initiate the Family Promise model to assist in helping our homeless and housing deficiencies. They explained that they believed that every child desrves a home and Family Promise of Barry County could provide a clean and safe place for families to sleep and help them rebuild their lives. After prayerful consideration, Stephen agreed to do the initial startup and fundraise for its inception by asking for assistance from our communities and churches. 

After reviewing the homeless situation in Barry County and looking at various solutions, he chose to develop a community approach by opening an affiliate of Family Promise National, said Stephen Larghi, chair and founding member of Family Promise of Barry County. There were more than 200 affiliates in 42 states. Family Promise National had been dedicated to famlies that find themselves homeless, for over 28 years. They are highly efficient and cost-effective solution with an extremely high success rate. 

Due to lack of affordable housing, Barry County was interested in looking at programs that could impact the families of our community. in 2015 alone Barry County United Way was contacted by more than 230 families who were seeking assistance with some form of housing issue. United Way thought it was important to embrace solutions that can keep families in out community, more specifically, children in their school systems. 

After nearly a year of extensive reserach on both Family Promise National and the Barry County demographics and area churches, Stephen moved further from the conceptual phase, to being one step closer to becoming an operational reality by filing for 501(c) 3 status in June 2016. 

Family Promise of Barry County started meeting at local churches with team meetings followed by a regular strategy meeting. Individuals, church groups or representatives from other organizations were invited to attend/participate in the meetings. The first community meeting perked the interest of 89 individuals in all areas of our community.

The Family Promise model uses existing properties such as churches and synagouges on a rotational basis. Guests are housed and fed every evening at these host churches for one week at a time and then moved to another host church. 

Family Promise agreed to supply bedding, transportation, and a day center for the guests. The day center is used for showering, laundry, tending to children and connecting to social services and is staffed by and Executive Director, Case Worker and bus driver. We initially had three churches signed up to be host churches and five others reviewing contracts. In the end, we would need 13 churches involved, so that guests are housed only once per quarter or just four times per year at any individual property, keeping the burden on the volunteers minimal. 

First Presbyterian Church of Hastings was the first church to sign up as a host church. Paul Van Kempen led the family ministry at the church and was excited to be a host church because he took the mandate of Jesus to "love one another as I have loved you" seriously. He felt it was an amazing opportunity for his church to serve others and make a difference in this world. Thornapple Valley Church was the second to sign up and has worked with the development of Family Promise since its beginnning.

With an opportunity to build connections in our community and to work with local agencies and churches, we felt this was a great fit and opportunity for all. Because Family Promise is run predominantly by volunteers, the cost to a host church is very minimal, only about $200 for the week [it hosts] guests. 

In the end, all the efforts are focused on getting the guests back on their feet quickly, getting them financially stable and in their own sustainable home. Nationally, the average Family Promise shelter period lasts only 62 day and the success rate of this program is 76 percent. We believe that every child deserves a home. Family Promise of Barry County will provide a clean and safe place for families to sleep while we work with them to find their own housing. 

Family Promise has volunteer teams focused on various needs, such as congregation recruiting, fudraising, communications, transportation, and Public Relations. Since Family Promise of Barry County is mainly a volunteer-run operation, the in-kind donation can equal three or more times the actual cash donation amount. 

Family Promise needed to raise its opening funds so that it could begin providing comprehensive support services that will enable homeless families to achieve lasting indpendence. Stephen accomplished through all of our amazing churches and leading businesses in our county. We also had a need for a 15-passenger van, a box truck with lift gate or large trailer to move the guest items and are actively looking for the right facility to serve as the day center. These needs have all been met!

Stephen's motto for the success of Family Promise: "Where God leads, God provides". 

Everything was in its place to achieve success and the rest as they say "is history"!

Sue Larghi- author

Main Causes of Family Homelessness

Lack of Affordable Housing

Most prevalent cause

Family breakup

When a guardian leaves, so does income

Educaiton barriers

Finding a job that earns enough to cover rent

Underemployment

Losing a job or hours, especially at minimum wage

Medical crisis

Illness or injury that causes a guardiant o miss work

Child with a Bear
Kids Playing Tug of War

Because of our community-based driven model, the success of families experience at Family Promise of Barry County has been remarkable:

Since founding in 2019, through our programs- Prevention, Shelter, & Stabilization, we have served:

  • 200+ individuals

  • 70 families

  • 100+ children

  • Prevented 13 evictions and stabilized 21 families.

Each year, we serve around 26 families and our programming has a proven track record of success.

 

On average, 88% of the people served in the shelter program secure stable housing within nine weeks.

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