It started in 1986 when a woman on her way to work passed a homeless woman and decided to buy her a sandwich. When that woman learned that here was homelessness even in her home community in New Jersey, she went beyond handing out sandwiches.
Her work lead to the formation of an interfaith hospitality network that involved churches and community resources to provide shelter, meals, assistance with finding work and housing. The program grew and is now a national program known as Family Promise. In 1992, Family Promise (known then as the considerable less catchy National Interfaith Hospitality Network) was awarded one of 21 Points of Light by President and Barbara Bush.
The Family Promise Mission Statement is:
OUR MISSION IS TO HELP HOMELESS AND LOW-INCOME FAMILIES ACHIEVE SUSTAINABLE INDEPENDENCE THROUGH A COMMUNITY-BASED RESPONSE.
It is hard for me to believe that there are over 450 children just in and around Venice, Florida. Eleven churches have committed to providing facilities, volunteers, and financial support so that Family Promise can help families of young children receive needed services to solve their homelessness in meaningful ways. Additional churches provide volunteers and financial support as well.
I am often skeptical about the whole subject of religion, but I have to say that there is something very beautiful about different churches working together on a common cause and in making their communities better places for all to live.