Family Promise of Orange County is an interfaith hospitality network of congregations that provide emergency shelter, hospitality, and services to homeless families. The goal of this organization is to eliminate the homelessness of each family served and place families in homes of their own in about two months. Tustin Presbyterian Church has been among the founding congregations for the organization in Orange County.
Find out more about this organization at www.familypromiseorangecounty.org.
Read a newspaper article about Family Promise.
TPC's 2017 hosting for Family Promise begins February 12 – February 19. Lynn Petersen will be in the Fellowship Hall after the Sunday morning worship services to take sign-ups for volunteers and to answer any questions you may have. Our hosting dates for the remainder of the year are: July 16 – July 23, September 3 – September 10 and December 17 – December 24. We have a fast turn-around between the second and third hosting weeks, but we’re confident we can handle it. Since the final hosting is the week before Christmas, Lynn would appreciate it if any of our dependable, "go-to" overnight volunteers would let her know if they will be unavailable as soon as they know. However, we are hopeful we will be able to show the families the warmth, acceptance and love in this congregation in a variety of acts of kindness during our Christmas hosting week.
Set-up Crew: 5 Volunteers needed per stay
Before our guests arrive, we turn our Youth Lounge into a “tent city” complete with air mattresses, linens, a side table, and a lamp. We need help the day the families arrive, right after the worship service, setting up tents, inflating air mattresses, putting sheets and comforters on the beds and placing side tables and lamps in each of the tents. **No experience is required.**
Dinner Host: 1 Volunteer needed per night per stay
Every night the families we have staying with us will arrive around 5:30 p.m., and we all have dinner together. As a dinner host, you prepare a healthy meal for 8-15 people and enjoy dinner with all of us. You may prepare your meal at home and bring it to the church, or you may bring groceries to the Fellowship Hall kitchen and prepare it there. Dinner is at 6:00 p.m. every night, and dinner hosts are informed the week before of 1) the number of people to cook for and 2) any allergies or food restrictions.
Overnight Host: 2 Volunteers needed per night per stay
One of the most fun and impactful things you can share with a family is your time. After dinner we head down to the Youth Lounge and hang out for a while. Often we will watch movies, talk about our days and, of course, play with the kids. Lights are out at 10:00 p.m. when the hosts go up to the church office to spend the night on a cot or a couch. The families get themselves up and out of the Youth Lounge bright and early each day, so at 7:00 a.m. the overnight hosts will check the doors and be on their way home. This is especially great for families to volunteer together; the Family Promise kids LOVE seeing other kids!
“It’s true that sleeping on a couch isn’t the same as sleeping in my bed at home, but I figure if our guest families have to sleep on air mattresses in strange churches every night for months, then one night on a couch isn’t much to ask of me” - Andy Riopka, on being an overnight host at TPC
Tear-down Crew: 5 Volunteers needed per stay
Our guests will leave before church on the following Sunday. After church the tear-down crew goes in and deflates all of the air mattresses, piles up the linens for the laundry hosts, takes down the tents and puts everything neatly away in the Family Promise closet in the Youth Lounge.
Laundry Host: 3 Volunteers needed per stay
Once the tents are all put away, our laundry hosts will take a basket (or two) of linens home to wash fold. You then bring the linens back to church and place them neatly in the Family Promise closet. That’s it!
House of Ruth Fundraiser — We Have Met Our Goal!
TPC, in conjunction with Family Promise, is raising money to assist in purchasing a home to provide transitional housing to homeless families. The house would not replace the current homeless program supported by churches like us, but would supplement it and provide the next step for homeless families on their path to mainstream housing. Families occupying these homes pay reduced rent for a typical 6-month period allowing them to save, pay off existing debts, and financially prepare to return to normal housing.
We have exceeded our goal of $50,000 to assist in this effort. Currently, we have raised $54,870. The Presbytery of Los Ranchos will match the funds we raised on a dollar-for-dollar basis, up to $50,000, making our total contribution grow to $104,870 for this project. Thank you for your generous pledges and donations. Checks should be marked “House of Ruth” and directed to TPC’s Financial Secretary. We will need to receive your payments by mid-December to receive the matching funds this year.
TPC and Family Promise —
Past, Present, and Future
TPC has played a very formative role in establishing Family Promise of Orange County, one of over 180 Family Promise affiliates nationwide. From the time national representatives came to Orange County to help organize and establish our new affiliate here, several TPC members were involved in the preliminary activities that led to incorporation as a nonprofit charitable organization on October 27, 2009. Three of the required 13 congregations needed to host Family Promise guests on their premises for four weeks each year quickly signed up, but there were no more congregations willing to serve. So, in June 2010 the first president, Chuck Turner of St. Mark Presbyterian Church, submitted his resignation, and the initial board was ready to abandon the effort unless something could be done by September of that year. It was at that time that Bernie Jeltema, with “what would Jesus do” in mind, felt called to become the president, recognizing that the need to help the homeless in Orange County was a widespread problem, and that the Family Promise model for helping eliminate homelessness was a proven method to address the issue.
Bernie and Chuck teamed up and called on pastors and leaders of about 50 OC congregations with the Family Promise vision. TPC signed up soon as the fourth congregation to make a commitment. It was several months before the fifth congregation was found, but the momentum began to build in early 2011, and by mid-2011 the required 13 congregations agreed to host.
Another major requirement to make a viable affiliate in OC was the need for a day center that would have the facilities — bathrooms, computers and workspace for guests to find jobs, a lounge for relaxation, office space for the staff, and other amenities. The day center is the hub of Family Promise where the guests go each morning to shower and go from there to their places of work or to look for a job, with the kids going off to their own schools, and then from the day center at 5:30 p.m. back to the host congregation of that week for dinner, fellowship, and overnight sleeping. Finding a place for the day center was a challenge, but First Methodist Church of Orange offered the use of several classrooms which were not being used in their education building. Again, several TPCers stepped up and helped remodel the spaces needed.
A Board of Trustees was established in summer 2011. An Executive Director, Casey Crosbie, was hired in September 2011, and Family Promise of Orange County officially opened its doors to guests on February 6, 2012.
Now in its fourth year of operation, under Casey’s capable leadership, Family Promise has grown steadily. Two transitional homes have been added, both in Fullerton. By 2014, 119 individuals were served — 37 families with 74 children. About 90% of the families returned to housing. The average stay in the emergency/congregational program was 38 days and 5˝ months in the transitional housing program. A total of 24 congregations are involved, 6,630 bed-nights have been provided, 10,374 meals have been served, and 1,150 volunteers have logged over 30,000 hours.
Each of the four weeks each year when TPC hosts Family Promise guests about 35 TPCers, including some of our youth, serve to set up and take down tents and cots, prepare and serve meals, clean linens, provide hospitality, and stay overnight. These people deserve a big round of applause, for it is them who make Family Promise a reality at TPC. On some days we are aided by members of our support congregation, Congregation B’nai Israel, who prepare and serve several of the meals.
All of this activity regarding hosting is a significant responsibility, and it was initially coordinated by Sandra Bear, then for the past year by Ashley Riopka, and for the week we just hosted by Sue Currie. We are seeking a volunteer from the congregation to assume this responsibility.
It is worth noting that three of the dozen members of the Family Promise of Orange County Board of Trustees are TPCers — Jerry Herter is the Treasurer and Bernie Jeltema and Lynn Petersen also serve.
A full-time caseworker with a Masters in Social Work (MSW) is now on staff. The staff and board of FPOC are continually looking for new ways to help the homeless community and have several new ideas on the drawing board to accomplish that. The quality of the services offered is outstanding. Guests are tracked at least monthly for two years after they graduate to assure they receive the needed support and remain in their homes.
Family Promise of Orange County currently is financially healthy, but to stay that way and continue to grow, it relies on contributions from individuals, congregations, grants, corporations, and other sources. The annual Gala this year will be on Saturday, August 22, at Wilcox Manor in Tustin. TPCers are encouraged to attend.
Some say that Family Promise of Orange County is the best-kept secret regarding service to the homeless in Orange County. To help get the message out, Family Promise of Orange County has just established a new Advisory Council. We are pleased that Bill Groves has agreed to serve on this Council.
The members and friends of TPC can feel good about the role they play — past, present, and future — to help serve the needs of the homeless in Orange County through Family Promise. TPC looks forward to a long and meaningful relationship with Family Promise.
225 West Main Street, Tustin, CA 92780-4319 (714)544-7070 www.tustinpresbyterian.org