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Family Promise surprises young family with a new home

BY JENNIFER CABRERA / OCTOBER 11, 2019

Family Promise, an organization that “ends childhood homelessness, one family at a time” by housing families in partner churches, hosted several hundred people for lunch on September 26, in one of its two major annual fundraisers. There was no charge to attend the event, but attendees were asked to donate after hearing from the organization’s leaders about their mission.

The 2019 Alachua County point-in-time survey identified 1021 kids who are homeless, a number that has risen annually from 525 kids in 2016. Homeless kids often have trouble attending school for various reasons, and Family Promise tries to meet as many of those needs as possible, including clothing, supplies, meals, access to computers, healthcare, and transportation.

Family Promise also provides furniture to families who successfully graduate from the program, helps parents find work, and helps families find temporary housing for their pets while they’re homeless. Their newest program, Help Us Move In (HUMI), provides one-time financial assistance to families who are facing eviction or are already homeless; the program has already helped 53 people in 50 days. 

93% of Family Promise families graduate successfully, which is defined as leaving the program with increased income and/or stable housing and staying stably housed for at least 1 year; this is accomplished with just 3 full-time employees and over 600 volunteers.

At the luncheon, Jayne Moraski, the Executive Director of Family Promise of Gainesville, introduced Rachael Ryan and Matthew Zovak, who are successful graduates from Family Promise. They became homeless after Matthew had an accident and lost his job; the couple, their 5-year-old daughter, and their dog lived with various friends for a while before living out of their car. Their lives began to turn around when someone at St. Francis House gave them the phone number for Family Promise. While in the program, they got jobs and were able to save money and eventually move into housing that they could afford with their income. Rachael spoke about their journey and how grateful they were to be in a stable financial situation. 

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What Rachael and Matthew didn’t know is that they weren’t there just to tell their story: Moraski surprised them with the news that Family Promise and Clayton Homes are partnering to provide them with a brand-new house. There were few dry eyes in the room as the attendees watched them process this life-changing news. The couple, who hope to marry soon, said the news was “amazing.”

Clayton Homes, a leading builder of prefabricated and site-built homes, has partnered with Family Promise nationwide to provide new, fully-furnished homes to selected families. In a press release after welcoming a family to their new home in Texas, Kevin Clayton, the CEO of Clayton Homes, said, “We are committed to contributing solutions to the affordable housing crisis in America. We hope our continued efforts with the Family Promise team will increase awareness and inform how others can donate or volunteer to positively impact the lives of families affected by homelessness.”

Family Promise was hoping to raise $15k for operations, with a stretch goal of $10k to receive matching funds for the HUMI program; they were thrilled to report that they received over $26k in donations at the luncheon. If you’re interested in contributing to Family Promise, you can donate here. They are also currently in need of couches, queen beds (with box springs), cookware, and dressers.

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