Unity of New Braunfels is one of the host churches spotlighted in the current issue of Unity Magazine. This excerpt quotes Andrea Otte, our Family Promise coordinator, and Vicki Barber, one of our original organizers:
“We have 13 different churches of different denominations in our program,” Otte said of the region. “We can host up to four families four times a year for a total of 15 people.” Volunteers like Otte cook meals, clean rooms, lend an ear, and make sure guests are comfortable.Read the complete article … A POWERFUL PROMISE, by Michele C. Hollow
“When you first arrive, it’s scary,” Jennifer says. “Your future isn’t certain, but the volunteers are so welcoming. They also understand not to ask personal questions like, ‘Why are you homeless?’ They respect us.”
Jennifer’s son is on the autism spectrum and sometimes acts out. The volunteers at Unity played with him and made sure he had a pitcher of chocolate milk each evening just for him. “Chocolate milk is my son’s favorite,” Jennifer explains. “He was used to getting that every night at home. With everything turned upside down, something as small as that is a big deal for him.”
Many volunteers bring their own children to play with the kids in the program. “No one knows who’s homeless and who isn’t,” Jennifer adds.
Otte’s 6-year-old plays with the children in the program and her 11-year-old twin daughters enjoy decorating the guest rooms. They add personal touches like toys, flowers, and welcome notes.
Guests arrive at the church at 5:30 p.m. and stay until 6:30 a.m. Children in the program either go to a day care center or school. Parents go to work, if they have jobs, or check in with Family Promise case managers to make sure they’re on track. Those without jobs have to show they’re actively looking, and everyone spends time learning money management. Volunteers prepare dinner and make sure there’s enough food for breakfast and lunch, which guests pack and take with them.
The church has about 35 active Family Promise volunteers. “Getting people to volunteer isn’t difficult,” says Barber, who volunteers with her husband. “We’re supportive of our church being involved. It’s a commitment we were drawn to because Family Promise keeps families together. Many shelters separate men and women. I can’t imagine how scary that must be for someone who lost everything to now be apart from their spouse or children.
Our next host week is September 1 through 8. Contact Andrea to find out how you can help, and also visit our Family Promise Team page.