The Promised Land of Butler County 9

Family Promise of Butler County 
Moves Into The Neighborhood

It can be hard to hold a family together, even in the best of times. Imagine the uncertainty of being a homeless family: Where will we sleep? Where will our next meal come from? How do we keep our kids safe? Family Promise of Butler County has moved into the neighborhood to help restore promise to homeless families.

In Butler County, there are over 500 children on record as homeless. There simply are not enough shelters in the area to meet the need, and most do not have the facilities to keep families together. At a time when family needs each other the most, they are often split up and shipped off to different shelters.

Family Promise, an affiliate of National Family Promise who runs the Interfaith Hospitality Network Program, and its network of local partners provide the typical resources of shelter, meals and clothing, but keep families together while they do it. Local congregations provide space in their buildings to serve as temporary homes, allowing for families to lodge together.

Family Promise achieves this goal by mobilizing our community’s greatest resource—its people. Volunteers are tapped to use their skills, knowledge and compassion to help people struggling with homelessness in our community reconnect. They help families feel welcome and safe, help find employment, care for children and make steps toward permanent housing. President of the Board of Directors of Butler County Promise, Randy Stearns explains, “We are not successful if a family stays homeless. Our success is helping each family move up and out to another level of stability in their lives.”

Sue Mahlock, Personnel Committee Chair with Family Promise of Butler County, says that the point of Family Promise is not only to feed and lodge families who happen to be homeless, but also to empower them with the tools they need to get their lives back on track. Mahlock has been involved with helping the homeless for years with the Interfaith Hospitality Network of Greater Cincinnati, through her church, Crestview Presbyterian in West Chester. “Bringing my whole family to play with the children, eat and pray with the guests, was one of the best things I have ever done to show God’s love to others who desperately need it,” Mahlock says.

A minimum of thirteen local congregations have partnered with the new Family Promise of Butler County affiliate, each agreeing to host families about four times a year. Over half of the current host congregations are in West Chester and Liberty Township: Center Pointe Church, Christ the King Lutheran Church, Crestview Presbyterian Church, Faith Community United Methodist Church, Lord of Life Lutheran Church, Princeton Pike Church of God and St. Maximilian Kolbe Catholic Church. The other six are in Fairfield and Hamilton: Fairfield Church of Christ, Fairfield West Baptist Church, First United Methodist Church in Hamilton, Lighthouse Indian Springs Church, New Life Vineyard Church, St. Julie Billiart Catholic Church.

Family Promise makes just as strong an impact on the lives of the volunteers and congregations as it does upon families. Patti Paulett, who helps coordinate the efforts of the program at her church, Lord of Life Lutheran Church in West Chester, says the program has been a blessing even before they’ve actually been hosts. “We have always been involved in a lot of outreach efforts in the community, but hosting local families who are homeless inside our own doors takes our outreach to a whole new level. What a blessing!”

Pastor Lowell Michelson of Lord of Life Lutheran Church in West Chester adds, “Homelessness can seem like an overwhelming problem. Many people wonder what one person or congregation can do to truly make a difference. Together, and with God’s help, we’re offering our space, love and lives to be part of the solution.”