Places & Faces
Family Promise of Calcasieu Parish: Because Every Child Deserves a Home
7/1/2019 1:00:00 PM
Family Promise of Calcasieu Parish

Nearly 1000 school-age children in Calcasieu Parish are part of families who are homeless, according to the Calcasieu Parish School Board. This startling statistic prompted a group of concerned citizens in 2014 to initiate Family Promise of Calcasieu Parish, an affiliate of the national non-profit organization. 


The mission of Family Promise is to help families experiencing homelessness and low-income families achieve sustainable independence through a community-based response. They focus on homeless families with children, regardless of what that family might look like; whether single parents or couples and with any number of children. 930,000 people have been helped nationally since the program’s inception in 1988.


Joe Wright is president of Family Promise of Calcasieu Parish. His wife Marty is a core board member. They say this mission is achieved on a local level by recruiting area churches of any denomination and faith to volunteer their time and space. Thirteen churches take turns housing participants for a week at a time, approximately four times a year. The families come to the church in the evening and the church provides a meal, activities and homework help for the children, and shelter for the night. The next morning, the families return to a day center where they shower, do laundry if needed, and start their day. A van transports them to school, work, interviews, etc.


Family Promise is not a solely a homeless shelter. It is a program that strives to help people who are highly motivated to get back on their feet but simply need some temporary assistance, ie working families, or those seeking employment, who are temporarily down on their luck, but want to succeed on their own, obtain employment, and secure housing. The participants are vetted for suitability and screened for drug/alcohol abuse and mental illness, as these are issues the program does not have the resources to handle. Family Promise does assist the participants with resume writing, attire for interviews, career advice, and financial counseling. They help them find housing, or a car, if needed. "We try to teach them how to stay out of homelessness,” says Marty. Because they can only accommodate 14 total persons at a time (limited by the van occupancy), there will likely be a waiting list.


Nationally, 82% of participants find housing within 63 days of being in the program, though Marty expects it may take longer for some in this region. 


The local affiliate has been working hard since 2014, procuring funds and recruiting local churches and volunteers. Joe and Marty say the Lake Charles program has been blessed during these planning and fundraising years. A van has been donated, and a property owner has offered a building at a reasonable rent. Twelve of the 13 needed churches have signed on, plus they have two supporting churches. "We’re almost there,” says Joe. They hope to have the program in operation by January 2020.


Board meetings are open to interested persons at University United Methodist Church. The next meeting will be held August 5, 5:45 pm. There are several different ways people can volunteer. 


For more information, see the national and local websites, www.familypromise.org, familypromisecp.org, find them on Facebook @familypromisecalcasieu, or email Joe Wright at joewright3708@gmail.com.


Posted by: Angie Kay Dilmore | Submit comment | Tell a friend

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