|Things are looking up in the OC.|
Family Promise of Orange County, CA becomes our seventh Affiliate in the Golden State and fourth in the LA area. It also serves as the first of two Orange Counties to open Affiliates this year. While the OC is famous as a wealthy suburb to LA and while much of the county has a high per capita income, homelessness is a major problem. An estimated 1,000 families live in motels in Orange County. This does not even touch the number in shelters, doubled up or staying in cars and other unsuitable sites.
Efforts began with a community meeting at First Presbyterian Church in Orange. Development really began picking up speed early in 2011 when a retired business consultant and part-time professor named Bernie Jeltema took the reins. By the end of the year the affiliate had gotten its 13 hosts, secured significant funding and renovated space at First Methodist Church of Orange into a Day Center. Casey Crosbie was hired as director and he and Bernie were able to attend the national conference. Delays in construction postponed the actual opening until February.
The first host congregation was St. Mark Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach which set up rooms to look like a bed and breakfast, complete with mints on the pillows.
The first two families in were a single mom with two kids, ages 6 and 10. Though she has a BA, divorce and subsequent unemployment eventually cost her family its housing. She came to FPOC after staying in a winter shelter housed in a single large auditorium. The second family is a mom, dad and three kids from 5 to 10. Mom has a job but not enough income to keep housing and they left a doubled up situation seeking a program that would get them back on their feet.
Already the power of volunteers is evident: The mom in the first family got an interview through an overnight host who knew the owner of a company at which she had applied.
Family Promise of Clear Creek, TX is located in the area of the Houston metroplex that is dominated by NASA and marks the 13th affiliate in the Lone Star State. Touching three counties, it is generally middle class, but has no services other than those in downtown Houston for homeless families.
|Director Pat Hughes and Trustees.|
The initial community meeting was held at St. Andrews Episcopal Church and FPCC served its first family this February, with a full complement of 13 congregations, a day center at Clear Lake UMC, a van and funding from diverse sources, including a very successful cardboard box city. The director is Pat Hughes, a highly experienced social service professional.
The first host was St. Andrew’s, and the first week was busy, with the network full within days. The day after Valentine’s Day, one of the guests, an 11 year old, asked a volunteer if she had a good holiday. The volunteer said yes and asked the girl about hers—she responded that she had had the best Valentine’s Day ever; praising the goody bags from the congregations and the wonderful environment she was in.
This extends to the parents as well: one of the moms has already gotten a job; another is getting tutoring for her GED by a volunteer from a congregation.