Family Promise of Salem County (FPSC) is a non-profit 501c3 organization that helps homeless families in Salem County, NJ. Our mission is to help families regain and sustain their independence. We are an affiliate of the national Family Promise Interfaith Hospitality Network that has been in existence since 1988. Today there are more than 178 Family Promise networks in 41 states across the country.
FPSC is not a shelter, but a unique approach to providing temporary overnight accommodations and an evening meal to three or four homeless families with children at a time (up to 14 people). Our network is made up of Salem County Host Congregations who pledge overnight use of their facilities and volunteers to work for one week approximately every three months. Each family sleeps on air mattresses (babies in portable cribs) in their own classroom or partitioned area of the Host Congregation.
Salem County Support Congregations are paired with Host Congregations and provide additional volunteers and support. Trained volunteers from both Host and Support Congregations can make and serve an evening meal, stay overnight with the guests or drive the network van.
Families stay together at a Host Congregation for one week at a time and then rotate to the next church on Sunday evenings, 365 days per year.
The FPSC Family Center is located in Pennsville, NJ and the place where displaced families receive mail, shower and do their laundry. Some guests return to the Family Center in the morning to catch the school bus or public transportation to get to work. A parent may stay there during the day if they are between jobs or caring for small children. Other guests with their own automobiles may travel directly to their job from the Host Congregation.
The Family Center also houses the office of our Executive Director who works with each family to develop a Family Plan that will help them to regain sustainable independence. To remain in the program, the plan requires each family to:
- Comply with all social service requirements/activities if they are receiving food stamps or financial assistance
- Work with a credit counselor or social worker to create a household budget
- Work with a credit counselor to acquire and an up-to-date credit report and begin calling creditors to lower balances and pay off smaller debts to improve their credit score
- Contact social service agencies or community organizations that may provide various assistance (food, utility payments, help with first month’s rent, security deposits etc.)
- Seek employment or a higher paying job(s)
- Obtain childcare during work hours
- Open a savings account and begin saving money for an automobile, future rent or other expenses.
- Seek affordable housing.
Every week, each family’s success is reviewed and recommendations are made to modify progress toward their ultimate goal of finding a home. Typically, families remain in the network between 30 and 90 days, occasionally longer if they need a little more time to achieve their Family Plan goals.
Family Promise of Salem County provides a “hand up” not a “hand out” for families who are temporarily homeless and need some time to refocus, save money and not worry where their family will sleep. Families who qualify for the FPSC program must be motivated to help themselves change their situation and actively work toward regaining their independence.
Because the Family Promise network is primarily comprised of volunteers, the network does not accept families with members who have a criminal background, active drug or alcohol addiction, or uncontrolled, untreated mental illness. Such individuals are better served by other social service professionals who are educated to help them succeed. Volunteers are not qualified to handle these issues.
From various economic backgrounds and many different faiths, volunteers are the heart of Family Promise of Salem County. Today we have more than 450 individuals in and around Salem County who not only fill volunteer roles to support the rotation of guests between Host Congregations, they also give of their time and talents. They may install a computer at the Family Center or fix a broken shelf, drive guests to a daytime appointment, or solicit sponsors for a fundraiser. In addition community supporters donate supplies for the Family Center, or ensure the ongoing operation of the network through their financial contributions. Working together, scores of people share our commitment to eliminating homelessness, one family at a time.
Since opening our doors on August 31, 2009, Family Promise of Salem County has been able to help many children and their families find a new home. The majority of those we serve are children. Therefore, the efforts of Family Promise in cooperation with other Salem County resources, are truly helping to strengthen the lives of those who will shape our future communities.
That Salem County be one where every family has a home,
a livelihood, and the chance to build a better future together.
Family Promise of Salem County
391B South Broadway
Pennsville, NJ 08070