Our families enjoyed visiting the Butler County fair this week! Thanks to the Hamilton Community Foundation for making these special events possible!
Because of the work I do, I try really hard to not take the simple things for granted, but you know what, that’s not always so easy. Many times, I don’t even realize I have taken something for granted. It just seems like it’s the norm.
Here are just a few examples:
A few weeks ago, our shelter kids were out of school due to the extreme cold. To keep them occupied we took the kids and their moms to the movies. They got to see Ralph Wrecks the Internet. When I went to pick them up, at the theater, one of the 6 year old boys gave me a big hug and said “That was the best. I’ve never been to a theater to see a movie before.” Bless his little heart. He talked about that experience for several days.
Transportation is another big one. If I need something from the store, need to go to work, or just want to get out. I go out and jump in my car and go. Many of our families have no transportation. They need to be in walking distance of all the places that they go. Walk to work, walk to the store, walk to the laundromat and walk to any other events that they wish to participate in. Can you imagine?
Toiletries, cleaning supplies transportation costs and clothing; if you are on a limited income how do you purchase these items? They are not covered by food stamps. While I do need to watch my budget on these items, I have never had to decide whether or not to replace shoes or buy gas for my car. Just recently we had a child whose shoes had been taped together, because dad only had enough money for gas to get to work. Payday was 3 days away. Can you imagine sending your child off to school with his shoes taped together for several days until you got paid? We made sure this didn’t happen. New shoes were purchased that morning.
Our families are magicians when it comes to making things work out, but sometimes they just need a little extra help a
and a lot of grace. I hope the next time you are just enjoying life, you will take a moment to say thanks for all you have and remember those who struggle. We can make a big difference in the lives of our families.
Family Promise Butler County
Did you know that the Center for Missing and Exploited Children reports that an estimated 98% of children who are experiencing homelessness are bullied or are the bullies? This is a staggering statistic!
At first I thought, well of course they are bullied. They don’t have an address, they receive free lunches, many of them are behind in school due to absenteeism, and they live in poverty. They are, quite frankly, an easy target. I witness this most every day here in the day center. Many of them come back from school in tears because someone made fun of them because they wore the same outfit two days in a row or didn’t have name brand shoes. Some children arrive disheveled because another child actually got physical with them. One of our elementary girls had a complete melt down about moving in to a mobile home because she didn’t want to be known as “trailer trash”. The names they are called are unbelievable. So yes, I do believe they are bullied at this incredibly high rate.
My second thought was there’s no way these kids are the bullies. I did the research however, and yes, they are bullies too. I know it’s hard to believe, but this is something I see almost daily here at the day center as well. Guess what kids do to keep other kids from knowing too much about them or to keep from being bullied? They bully first. It’s a deep seated, defense mechanism that they have developed to protect themselves from all the trauma of being homeless. You can’t make fun of me if I do it to you first. If I appear to be strong, you can’t intimidate me and you’ll leave me alone. Going along with the crowd keeps them from noticing me. These are just a few of their sub-conscious thoughts that they use to feel safe. It’s amazing what these kids will do to appear normal or to become lost in the crowd so they don’t get bullied.
The trauma of experiencing homelessness for these kids is so multifaceted. It affects their responses and reactions to everyday life situations in a much different way then we can ever imagine. If not addressed, their feelings of hopelessness, disrespect, and faulty defense mechanisms will plague these kids well into adulthood.
Please join us for a training session on trauma informed care February 19, 7:00 pm at Princeton Pike Church of God. We will be discussing how trauma affects our responses and reactions both physically and emotionally.
Leaving you with some new thoughts,
Have you ever thought about what homeless children and their families go through when the weather turns so cold?
These past two weeks have been brutal, in regards to snow and cold temperatures and it’s just begun. Each day here at the shelter, we receive numerous phone calls asking for help. These are families who have no place to turn, they are looking for anything or anyplace to be that will get them and their children out of the cold. Some of them are sleeping in their cars, running out their precious gas just so that they don’t freeze. Others have taken to climbing in dumpsters so that the wind isn’t blowing on them and they can get some shelter from the elements. Many times these individuals don’t have appropriate coats/hats/gloves for the weather either.
Unfortunately, we do not have enough beds at our shelter to assist all of these families, and all of the other shelters are also full. When I talk to these families, I can refer them to Shalom in Middletown, which is a cold shelter and provides a meal and an overnight in a local church, but during the day the families are back out in the elements. The Butler County Sherriff also opens the lobby of the jail for people to stay in overnight. While these are at least a place of warmth for a few hours, they are hardly the answer to the needs of these families. Families are very limited on shelters and are unable to access emergency shelters as they only accommodate singles.
I must also say, that talking to these families takes a toll on me each day. I want nothing more than to say yes, we can shelter you, but unfortunately, I can’t. I am stuck with giving them bad news and very few options for assistance. This is heartbreaking to say the least.
I share all of this with you, so that you might get a sense of how desperate these families are and how great the need is for our family shelter here at Family Promise. I ask that you would remember these families in your prayers and in your hearts.
Sharing in love,
Executive Director, Family Promise of Butler County
As we are now embarking on the great adventure of the year 2019, I am both reflecting on 2018 and looking forward to 2019.
For 2018, we served 21 families (62 individuals), 24 of whom were adults and 38 where children. We had families from Middletown, Hamilton, West Chester and Fairfield. 75% of our families graduated from the program successfully by obtaining permanent housing and increased income. Our families came from various backgrounds and lengths of homelessness. Some were doubled up with family, living in hotels, staying in their car and living in a tent at a campground. Of our 38 children 15 were school aged and 23 were under the age of 5. We also had 3 moms who were pregnant while they were with us. In addition to the families we served in shelter, we were able to serve an additional 145 individuals/families connect with the needed resources to prevent homelessness.
Aside from statistics, 2018 held lots of ups and downs for both our Affiliate and our families. We had some staffing changes, we expanded our programming to include financial literacy and good tenancy programs, we learned new ways to look at fund development and expanded our presence in the community. Two of our most favorite happenings were being able to have Karen Olson, Founder of Family Promise attend our 2nd Birthday Party, and the generosity of our donors for our Annual Family Christmas Party. We had host congregations that really stepped up to the plate over the holidays by keeping our families over the holiday and serving them with home cooked holiday meals, trips to see light shows, lunch with Santa and movie night for New Year’s Eve. Without our host congregations and volunteers none of this would be possible.
Looking ahead to 2019, is just so thrilling for me. I love the idea of new beginnings and growth. We are looking to add more programming such as prevention for missing/exploited children, how to tell if your child is being bullied or is a bully, and nutritional advice along with shopping smart, sponsor trainings for our volunteers, we are going to continue to increase our presence in the community, expand our social media footprint and as always continue to love on our families as we walk with them through this difficult time.
It is my hope that you will join us on this great adventure and be a part of something that truly is changing lives. By helping homeless and low-income families in Butler County, we are able to help them achieve sustainable independence.
Current and graduated families, along with volunteers from our host congregations, gathered to celebrate Christmas this past Friday evening. Everyone shared a meal before creating a variety of crafts. While the children sang Christmas carols, the parents had an opportunity to shop and wrap gifts for their children. The highlight of the evening was a visit from Santa! A special thanks to Ridgeway Elementary School in Hamilton and their principal Kathy “the elf” Wagonfield. The children had a wonderful experience!!
A young mom with three children all under the age of 5 seeks refuge with Family Promise.
Having lived with a relative who passed and found herself homeless, she sought shelter in a motel with another family member who has a history of addiction and abuse. Reaching out to a church for help, they refer her to Family Promise. Finding comfort that first night at the host congregation was just the beginning. The next morning our driver discovered these children have been going without food, so with his own funds he went and stocked the Day Center refrigerator with needed items. While shopping he shared the story of this family with a friend and she shared it with her boss and that person responded by donating $500 to help this family.
Who is Family Promise? It’s all of us. We all must promise the most vulnerable to the basic needs of food and shelter. All we have to do is look and listen and we will discover the needs of our neighbor. Find someone to love on today. It will enrich their life and yours as well.
Linda Smith, Executive Director
As we are close to the end of 2018, and I am looking at all that we have accomplished here at Family Promise, all I can feel is blessed and grateful.
This year we have served 18 families, 22 adults and 35 children, and we still have a month left. Our graduation rate is at 75% and average number of days spent in the shelter is 65. We have also provided other services and referrals for an additional 145 individuals.
Because of our amazing volunteers and host congregations, these families have had a safe place to stay each night, were fed a hot nutritious meal, breakfasts and lunches were provided, and most importantly, love and mentorship was shared with both adults and children.
I am so looking forward to all that we will accomplish in 2019, and the impact we are going to be able to make for these children and their families. Some of the new things that we will be providing in our 2019 programming, is an updated, more inclusive financial literacy class, a session on what it means to be a good neighbor/tenant with each family, nutritional guidelines along with shopping smart and a course on preventing/recognizing abuse and bullying.
It is with much gratitude and love that I would like to wish each and every one of you a very Merry Christmas and much hope for the New Year.