Family Promise Responds to Natick Residents in Need
Family Promise Metrowest: Residents walk to support families in need. (Photo/supplied)
By Cynthia Whitty
The pandemic has not been easy for many, especially those residents who are unemployed or under employed. A new report (Jan. 11, 2021, Economic Roundtable; Locked-Out: Unemployment and Homelessness in the Covid Economy) says that COVID-driven loss of jobs and employment income will cause the number of homeless workers to increase each year through 2023. Without large-scale, government employment programs, the report says, the Pandemic Recession is projected to cause twice as much homelessness as the 2008 Great Recession.
Family Promise Metrowest (FPM) knows first-hand the impact of the pandemic on Natick families.
In 2020 FPM served 50 families, including 89 children. These families faced an immediate housing crisis, homelessness or eviction, or were transitioning from the FPM shelter program back into community housing. Seventy-six percent were families who were headed by a single mom; 16 percent, by a two-parent family; and 8 percent, by a single dad.
In 2021, FPM anticipates serving at least 50 families or more.
“This past year posed unique problems for our families, given the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Executive Director Susan Crossley said. “Normally relying on a network of congregations and volunteers to provide safe housing for our families, we instead moved families into individual hotel rooms where they could safely isolate, thereby protecting themselves and our network of volunteers from potential disease transmission.”
“In addition to the isolation measures,” Crossley said, “we also mobilized to ensure nutritional and medical needs were met for our families across the region. Within the first few weeks of the pandemic, 72 percent of our families lost their jobs or had work hours reduced. This loss of income severely impacted household budgets for food and healthcare expenses. We supplemented SNAP benefits and food pantry donations with grocery gift cards, and ran donation drives for medical and cleaning supplies, which we distributed to families.”
FPM has 12 staff members; seven full-time and five part-time. “Typically, approximately 1,300 volunteers per year contribute their time to our organization and families, although during Covid shutdowns, we have not been able to offer hands-on volunteering opportunities,” Crossley said.
The services FPM offers include:
The Shelter Program, which provides safe housing, meals, and a supportive environment to help families experiencing homelessness develop life skills essential for achieving stability.
The SAIL Program (Sustaining Achievements for Independent Living) that supports families in successfully reestablishing housing in the community. Through this program, Family Promise Metrowest’s development director, Carole Brodrick, says there are many fun ways to help support Natick families. Some of FPM’s upcoming events are listed below. For more information on events, visit www.familypromisemetrowest.org/news-events/events.
Walk for Change: May 1 and 2 (Registration opens March 15). Register, raise funds, have fun, walk the route of your choice. On May 1 and 2, FPM is creating an event in which individuals, families, or small groups of friends will walk together in their home towns to raise funds and awareness for families facing homelessness. These walks will take place across the 10 Metrowest towns in which FPM has a presence. The walk will also feature several mini-events or activities leading up to and on the day of the walk, bringing the FPM community together virtually in support and celebration.
FUNDrive, Monday, April 19, 10 a.m. Clean your closets for a cause! Bring your items to the truck at 6 Mulligan St., Natick. FPM will start loading the truck at 10 am with your donations, and will continue to accept bags until the truck is full. FPM will receive a donation from Savers based on the number of pounds of soft goods collected.
Raffle for Change: Purchase tickets by midnight, Saturday, May 1. Winners will be announced on Sunday, May 2, 1 pm. First prize: $2,500; second prize: “Refresh Your Room” prize package; third prize: “Rejuvenate Your Garden” prize package.