Keeping families together: Nonprofit partners with churches to temporarily house homeless parents and children

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Because of certain restrictions, homeless shelters and programs often split up families if the facility accepts only women and children or only men. Family Promise of Hamilton County Executive Director Nancy Ramsey is working to change that in Noblesville and Hamilton County.

“We serve families. Our tag line is, ‘Because every child deserves a home,’ so we serve families and we don’t define families,” Ramsey said. “We serve the children and whoever the adults are – two dads, two moms, grandma and grandpa, as long as a child is involved and the adults that are their guardians, we don’t split genders.”

Ramsey

The Hamilton County affiliate of Family Promise, which is a national organization, opened in Noblesville in the spring of 2019 and welcomed its first family in June. It partners with churches throughout the county. The churches agree to host families for a week at a time. Families rotate throughout with partnering churches.

“There’s a weekly rotation. Families come in on Sunday afternoon and leave the following Sunday,” Ramsey said. “They are only there at night from the dinner meal on to the next morning, and a van provides transportation. If the parents don’t work, they come to the day center (in Noblesville).”

Each family has their own bedroom inside the churches, which aside four sleeping areas for different families.

“Most churches use their Sunday school classrooms or a nursery,” Ramsey said. “One smaller church building uses partitions in their sanctuary and sets up bedrooms. They set it up like a hotel room, and we have rollaway beds brought.”

The churches provide dinner pitch-ins, grab-and-go breakfast sin the morning and sacked lunches.

Homeless families can take part in the program for 30 days as long as they follow rules, such as remaining drug- and alcohol-free.

Carmel resident Robyn Flint utilized the services with her three children, Nilah Pierce, Calel Young and Cataleya Young, before finding an apartment in Noblesville. Guardians are able to access computers at the day center to search for jobs and housing.

“This program helped because if it wasn’t for the program, we would’ve been homeless,” Flint said. “We would’ve had to go to a shelter in Indianapolis. Family Promise provides shelter, food, spiritual help and creates this amazing, supportive village in Hamilton County. It’s created this huge support system that not only I have never had, but (my kids) have never had. It taught them what love is.”

For more or to donate, visit fpohc.org.

From left, Nilah Pierce, Robyn Flint, Calel Young and Cataleya Young are a family who utilized Family Promise of Hamilton County’s services when they were homeless.

Partnering churches

Many of Family Promise of Hamilton County’s referrals come from churches. Referrals also come from youth assistance programs across the county and the Good Samaritan Netwrok.

Ten churches in Hamilton County partner with Family Promise to provide housing for  homeless families. The participating churches are Venture Christian Church in Carmel, NSPIRE Church in Westfield, Noblesville First United Methodist Church, Green Valley Church of Christ in Noblesville, Our Lady of Grace in Noblesville, White River Christian Church in Noblesville, Faith Community Church in Noblesville, New Joy Lutheran Church in Westfield and Cicero Christian Church.

Support churches participate, too, by helping with transportation and providing meals.

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