A group that opens church doors to welcome homeless families recently received a boost in the way of a $10,000 grant from the Servant Christian Community Foundation.
Family Promise of Lawrence, which is supported by a network of 25 faith-based congregations, received the Olathe-based foundation’s 2009 Thurman Mitchell Passion Award for a nonprofit that assists families.
The award, which came with the grant, was a competitive one, said Joe Reitz, who is the founder and board member of Family Promise of Lawrence. There were more than 200 applicants for seven categories.
“It validates both what we are doing and that there is a real need here in Lawrence,” Reitz said.
The nonprofit has been hosting homeless families in Lawrence for just under a year. Each week, one church houses four families overnight. Volunteers provide morning and evening meals. During the day, the families go to Family Promise’s headquarters, where they have help with life skills, job searching, child care and transportation to interviews and appointments.
The goal is to move families into permanent housing, which many have done. The program has a waiting list of families.
The grant money will help supplement Family Promise’s operating cost, Reitz said. The organization would like to have an annual budget of around $125,000.
Right now it pulls money from fundraising events, congregation collections and a grant from the Douglas County Community Foundation. More than 1,000 people have volunteered to help — from making meals for families to just visiting.
Homeless families are shown hospitality, something many haven’t experienced, Reitz said. And meanwhile, volunteers have a better understanding of the families’ plights. “If everyone does a little bit, you can accomplish a lot for these families,” Reitz said.