FORSYTH COUNTY -- About four months into the program, families suffering from homelessness who are participating in Family Promise of Forsyth County are flourishing, thanks to supportive leadership and community aid.
The program, which began Sunday, Oct. 2, originally served four families, but has since reduced its number to three.
“Every family that comes to us is a little different, and we are working to meet their needs as best we can,” said Jacob Granados, executive director of the nonprofit. “But we are having a good personal impact; we have a teenager in our program who was encouraged to apply at Chick-fil-A, and he was offered a job on the spot.
“He left that interview full of confidence and bewilderment that he got a job – his very first job offer – and at Chick-fil-A nonetheless.”
Family Promise is an offshoot of the national faith-based organization dedicated to ending family homelessness.
Although the organization is non-denominational, 13 churches are signed on to house participating families for a week at a time on a rotating basis. Participants are served meals at the host church, which are prepared and served by volunteers.
Cumming First United Methodist Church housed the first families from Oct. 2-8, who were then moved to the next host church. The process continues for as long as families remain in the program.
A mother, Granados said, was taught how to open and use a saving’s account for the first time the other day.
And a boy who came into the program failing all his classes is now passing all but one – after just three weeks of tutoring.
He recently texted his mom, elated, saying “mom, I got a 93 on my algebra exam!”
His previous average was an 8.
“We’re seeing families flourish in what I like to call an unconventional stability,” Granados said. “For most of us, the idea of staying in a church for a week in a twin-size bed that’s not your own would be very scary and something that none of us would probably sign up for.
“But for our families who are not used to stability and structure, it’s been just the amount of stability they need to begin to flourish.”
Host coordinator for St. Columba Episcopal Church, Kathleen Kraynick, said hosting the families has been wonderful, albeit a bit messy.
“This second time around, we actually filled up all of our volunteer spots and people who signed up and wanted to serve didn’t have spots,” she said. “We went from being very worried we weren’t going to be able to pull this off the first time around to making up things for people do this last time.
“It’s not about having perfect facilities [and] I can’t stress enough, if you’re not involved, find some way to. It’s just been a really great experience.”
Though Family Promise now has a van, truck and passenger car to chauffeur families around, the organization will hold fundraisers in upcoming months to raise money for the organization.
It is also still looking for a permanent place to call home; currently, Family Promise is being run out of The Place of Forsyth.
Currently, participating parents and children not in school spend their days at The Place, where the adults must take classes for the program, including cooking, career building, job training and a forklift instruction and certification class.
They must also actively seek work through the resources available at The Place.
Family Promise will hold its first fundraiser of the year Saturday, March 18 at 7 p.m., at the Alpharetta First United Methodist Church, where the Alpharetta Symphony Orchestra will perform “Sounds of a Mediterranean Spring. More information can be found at FamilyPromiseOfForsythCounty.org.