history.jpg

THE BEGINNING

Karen Olson was rushing to a business meeting when she passed a homeless woman on the street. On impulse, Karen bought her a sandwich.The woman, Millie, accepted the sandwich but asked for something more — a chance to be heard. Karen stayed with Millie and listened. What she heard made her understand that homelessness brought profound feelings of diminished self-worth and disconnection from society. Soon after, Karen and her two sons began delivering lunches to homeless people on the streets of New York.

Karen-handing-out-sandwiches3-300x227.jp

1986: THE FIRST NETWORK

When Karen learned that homelessness was affecting families right in her own community in New Jersey, she knew she had to do something. But this was much more than giving sandwiches. She brought together people in need and people who wanted to help. Existing community resources could provide shelter, meals, and housing. Volunteers could use their skills, knowledge, and compassion to help their homeless neighbors find employment, reconnect with society, and restore their dignity.

 

She approached the religious community. Congregations offered hospitality space within their buildings. The YMCA provided showers and a family Day Center. A car dealer discounted a van. The first interfaith hospitality network opened on October 27, 1986.

1988: THE NETWORK GOES NATIONAL

As word spread, more New Jersey congregations formed a second network. Other congregations were inspired to develop similar programs. In 1988, we formed the National Interfaith Hospitality Network to bring the program nationwide. In addition to shelter, meals, housing, and job-seeking support, our Affiliates began developing programs for transitional housing, childcare, and homelessness prevention. Nationally, we added programs like Just Neighbors and Family Mentoring.

Karen-receiving-point-of-light-award-150

1992: POINT OF LIGHT

Family Promise was awarded one of 21 Points of Light, out of a field of more than 4,500 nominees, by President and Barbara Bush, signifying Family Promise as one of the top volunteer agencies in the country. The award recognizes how one neighbor can help another, and calls upon the nation to take action in service to our fellow citizens.

2003: WE BECOME FAMILY PROMISE

We changed our name, from the National Interfaith Hospitality Network to Family Promise, to reflect our broad range of programs and our vision of ending family homelessness. The name refers to the promise, in the sense of commitment, which communities make to families in need. But it also refers to the promise, the potential, inherent in every family.

2014: FAMILY PROMISE BECAME AN IDEA IN JUNEAU

July: The summer lunch program at Shepherd of the Valley saw several families who are experiencing homelessness come through. Many were sleeping in cars or at the campground and they made the church aware of the limited resources in Juneau to address family homelessness.

Pastor Tari and Father Pat Travers met and talked about working together on the Family Promise model that would use the many church facilities we have in town to help address family homelessness.

 

September: Donna Lawson from Family Promise national met with a group of 19 interested people at St. Paul’s where she laid out the process for becoming a Family Promise affiliate.

2017: FAMILY PROMISE OF JUNEAU OPENS ITS DOORS

3 years of fundraisers, meetings, creation of our non-profit, formation of a board, community outreach, and multiple trainings, FPJ finally became a reality.

April 30: We officially opened our doors with two families.

Family Promise 25th Anniversary Retrospective - "Sharing Our Dream, Keeping Our Promise"
Family Promise

Family Promise 25th Anniversary Retrospective - "Sharing Our Dream, Keeping Our Promise"