What is Family Promise and how does it work at St. Anselm’s?
Every 10 or 11 weeks, the classroom area of our church complex is transformed into 4 or 5 guest bedrooms, 2 host bedrooms, and the learning center becomes a comfortable dining/living room area. During these weeks, about 70 or more of our parishioners and friends volunteer their time to help with the hosting of 4 or 5 guest families with children (up to 14 people in total) from the Monmouth County Family Promise program.
Family Promise helps temporarily homeless families when they fall between the cracks. The “guest” portrait includes 1 and 2 parent families, (even some with 2 parents working at minimum-wage jobs!) Some are faced with a major illness, the loss of a job, an increase in rent or other forces beyond their control, such as Hurricane Sandy. With such a large number of families living from paycheck to paycheck these days, any one of these situations can drive a family into homelessness. Participation in Family Promise allows families who have lost their homes to live for up to 3 months, without the need to pay for rent or food, and helps them through the pitfalls of searching for permanent housing, and for a job, if they are not working.
Family Promise of Monmouth County consists of 12 hosting churches and 25 support congregations throughout the county. Guests move to a new church each week. They arrive at the church each evening during hosting week at 5:30 PM. Each congregation provides dinner, overnight lodging and breakfast for a week. Each morning at 7:00, the guests leave the church, and either go to work, or return to their “Day Center”, which, in our network, is located in Aberdeen. That’s a base where everyone stores clothing, showers and does laundry. During the day, the guests who are employed go to work, and the kids go to school or daycare. Guests who are looking for a job use the day center as their base of operations, and use the phone and computer there to search for a job.
St. Anselm’s has been part of this very rewarding and very necessary ministry since 2001. During that time more than 300 volunteers from our parish family have helped out with the program. We also welcome volunteers from the surrounding community.
What do volunteers do?
There are 2 aspects of volunteering for the Family Promise—
All our volunteers provide much-needed and much-appreciated help. There’s something for everyone!
Information sheets and the Family Promise volunteer sign-up chart are posted on the bulletin board in the hall just to the left of the chapel door starting about 1 month before each hosting week.
Please stop by to find out how our parish fulfills this important mission, and to see if there is something you would like to do to help.
If you would like to serve in this ministry, please sign your name on the “NEW VOLUNTEER SIGN-UP SHEET” on the bulletin board, or contact one of the coordinators, Sue or Irene, directly. (See below for phone numbers and email addresses.)
Evening Hosts: - (2 volunteers each evening) Arrive at 5:15 PM. Stay until the Overnight Hosts arrive at approximately 8:00 PM. Greet guests when they arrive. Help set out a buffet dinner. Have dinner with the guests. Converse with the guests. Interact with the children.
Activities Hosts- (1 or 2 volunteers each evening. Teens are welcome, as well as pre-teens accompanied by a parent.) Consult with the coordinator to plan age-appropriate craft or game activities for children and/or adults, or just play with the kids. Arrive at 7:00 PM. Stay till around 8:00 to 8:30, depending on the time of year.
Overnight Hosts - (2 volunteers each night) Arrive at 8:00 PM. Stay overnight. (Sleep on an air mattress or folding cot in your own private host bedroom/classroom.) Interact with the guest families as needed. Leave anytime after 6:00 AM, or stay until 7:00 AM (8:00 AM on Saturdays) if helping with breakfast.
Dinner Preparers – (2 each evening) (Coordinator will advise you on menu choices. It’s important that we have a varied meal plan and sometimes there are dietary restrictions)
After consulting with the Dinner Prep. Coordinator, prepare a meal or part of meal. Drop off the already prepared food at church by 5:15. (Meal should be ready to eat. We can keep it warm but it must be cooked.)
Set Up-Take Down - (Several volunteers) Work with Coordinator on the Sunday morning that the guests arrive, and/or the Sunday that they leave, (usually before, and sometimes during the 9:00 Mass) to set up/take-down the learning center and convert classrooms into bedrooms by inflating air mattresses, vacuuming the classrooms, making up the guests’ beds, and bring up toys and other supplies from the basement.
Supplies - (1 volunteer each day) Sunday person: Shop for staples and basics needed to stock the kitchen before the guests’ arrival) OR Monday through Saturday people: be available to bring needed supplies to church by 5:30 PM, when contacted the night before or that morning by the coordinator.
For questions about Family Promise at St. Anselm’s, please contact one of the General Coordinators:
Sue Bove email@example.com (908) 309-6418.
Irene Esposito firstname.lastname@example.org (201) 240-8980
If you are interested in learning more, take a look at the Family Promise of Monmouth County website: www.familypromisemc.org