It was great to read last week about the continuing success of the Family Promise program in Lawrence.
The story in Wednesday’s Journal-World focused on Isiah Linnear, who ended up in Lawrence with his five children after deciding to flee the urban environment of West Chicago a year ago. After staying with friends for several months, Linnear connected with Family Promise, a national program that got its start in Lawrence about four years ago. The Linnears “graduated” from the program in September and have moved into their own home.
The Linnears aren’t the only ones who are thankful for the help supplied by Lawrence Family Promise, which works with local churches and volunteers to help homeless families get back on their feet. In 2011, the group served 68 adults and 41 children in 18 families. Eleven of those families graduated from the program during the year.
It’s no small job to provide homeless families with the shelter, day care and counseling needed to get people back to work and into their own homes. More than 1,000 volunteers and about 35 area congregations share various responsibilities with Family Promise. Members of the community have stepped up to provide transitional houses and other services as well as funds to support the Family Promise mission.
Joe Reitz, a retired Kansas University business professor, was the point person for bringing Family Promise to Lawrence. Five years ago, he told the Journal-World that, after studying various faith-based programs, he thought the Family Promise model could work well in Lawrence. In hindsight, Reitz has been proven right, but the road to the group’s current success wasn’t without some bumps and a lot of effort to get buy-in from local churches and the rest of the community.
Unfortunately, the demand for Lawrence Family Promise’s services has continued to grow. It must be satisfying to see how many people have been helped but also discouraging to see how many more still need help. It’s an ongoing effort, but the success of Family Promise certainly makes it worthy of continued community support.