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Family Promise

Family Promise talk

March 18, 2018

After the last Family Promise host week, as my team and I

were cleaning the rooms and preparing them for Sunday

School classes, I began to think about how our FP host

week is similar to having friends come to spend some time

in our homes. The reasons my friends come to visit me

differs from why our FP guests come to stay here at First

Church. Nevertheless, we prepare our homes, our hearts

and our church just the same. I think you can identify with

me when you remember having family or friends come to

stay with you for a short time.

I was recently reading Galatians 5:22 about the Fruits of

the Spirit. And I think that love, joy, peace, patience,

kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self

control are all traits we need as we interact with those

around us. But when we are helping someone who has

made some really bad choices but is now working to make

their lives better, what we really need is love, patience and

kindness in particular.

So you begin to prepare your house and in particular the

rooms where your guests will be staying. With the help of

our custodian and the cleaning team, we do the same thing

at church. Cleaning and making everything as home-like as


Then you begin to think of the meals you need to prepare.

Luckily we have a large team of volunteers who provide

delicious home cooked meals and even a pizza night along

with other food and drink that our guests may need or want

during their stay. We have been told that we have the best

snacks of any of the host churches!

So now the guests arrive...the difference here is that we

don’t know our FP guests before they arrive. But what we

do know is that they are all God’s children and they need a

safe place for themselves and their children. A place to

relax and refresh. A place to begin getting their lives back

on track. That is all we need to know.

You may need to drive your guests around town. And in

Family Promise we do too...we have the use of a van

during our host week, which we use to take the children to

daycare or their schools. Then we take those adults who

are not working and any pre-school children to the Day

Center in Akron for the day. At dinner time we pick

everyone up and bring them back to the church for dinner

and the night.

Some of our guests are shy, quiet, reserved. For them, we

are here to simply listen, if, and when they want to talk. We

don’t pry. Or judge. Then on the other hand there have

been times when some of our guests are a little more

outspoken, maybe even a little negative.

A little harder to love. We all probably have a friend or

family member like that. But again in Family Promise we

are only here to listen. To be a presence in God’s house.

To be kind. 1 Peter: 9-10 says...Offer hospitality to one

another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever

gift he has received to serve others, as faithful stewards of

God’s grace in its various form. It’s not always easy but it’s

what we must do.

You might offer your house guests a small gift. Here at FP

we give our guests several things in a Blessing Tote but

what everyone enjoys is warm socks. A volunteer donates

a new tote bag for each guest while another person gives

each child a small fleece blanket and a book. We offer

them a Bible or a children’s story bible. The children get a

small stuffed animal and a toothbrush. The adults get

personal care items. Things that they will probably need

but can’t afford. These items show them that we care.

Romans 12:13 says...Share with God’s people who are in

need. Practice hospitality.

As our Family Promise host week draws to a close, we

invite them back to our church home, just like we would do

to our own family or friend.

So I hope you see the similarities between having guests in

your own home and guests in your church home. The

definition of Hospitality is...The friendly and generous

reception and entertainment of guests, visitors or

strangers. Isn’t that what our lives are all about? Opening

the doors of God’s house and inviting in those who need

our help and compassion. Receiving our guests with

goodwill. Hebrews 13:2 says...Do not hesitate to entertain

strangers, for by so doing, some have entertained angels

without knowing it.

Our church will not solve the problem of homelessness. But

as a group of believers, we can minister to our Family

Promise guests, while hopefully sharing our story with

others who might feel God’s urging to join our efforts.

In about 12 weeks we will again have the opportunity to

receive new guests in God’s church through Family

Promise. Deuteronomy 15:11 says...Since there will never

cease to be some in need on the earth, I therefore

command you “Open your hand to the poor and needy

neighbor in your land”. So we will do just that...we will open

our hands, our hearts and our church home to the needy in

our own neighborhood again in June.

I will close with this familiar verse from Matthew 25...I was

hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty

and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and

you invited me in. I tell you the truth, whatever you did for

one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.

By performing these simple acts of love, you are doing

them for Jesus Christ.

Thank you so much for your support of Family Promise.

Kathy Jackson






First Church and Family Promise

Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it. Hebrews 13:2


FAMILY PROMISE gives those of us at First United Methodist Church in Cuyahoga Falls an opportunity to entertain strangers.  Maybe there are angels amongst them...


Family Promise is a national organization in over 40 states that strives to keep homeless families with children together while they work to become sustainably independent.  It is the only program of its kind in Summit County.  FIrst Church serves as a host church 4-5 times a year.  We are part of a 12 church rotation, each one hosting these guests for a week, before the families move on to the next church in the rotation.  It brings faith organizations together that desire to help families that need Christian hospitality.  They do not host people with drug abuse or alcohol addiction, violent criminal backgrounds or those seeking shelter from domestic abuse.  Most of the families stay in the program an average of 30 days before moving into their own "home".  The Family Promise social worker/case manager keeps in touch with the families after they leave the program, for about a year, to help prevent any backsliding.


The maximum number of guests that we can serve at one time is 14, usually within 4 families.  We have the use of cots that the guests sleep on for the week and a 15 passenger van that we use to transport the children to their schools and the non-working adults and preschool children to the Family Promise Day Center in Akron and back to the church in the evening.


The van driver picks up the families at the Day Center that do not have their own vehicles around 5 pm each night and brings everyone back to the church where they are greeted by a team that has prepared a hot, home cooked meal.  Our guests are shown to their own rooms (used normally by Sunday School classes) that have been specifically prepared for them.  We have volunteers who come for the evening to help throughout dinner, visit afterwards with the families, perhaps play games with the children, lead arts and crafts, or just be a presence in the church.  They are replaced by two volunteers who arrive at 9pm for the overnight shift.  The overnighters sleep on the same cots as the guests and in the mornings they make sure everyone is ready for the departure of the van, which will drop off the students at their schools.  Then the van driver takes everyone, that isn't going to work, to the Day Center.  While the guests are there, they have the use of resting rooms, washers and dryers, shower facilities, and a computer for each family to work on their resumes and job searches while under the guidance of the social worker.  The van returns to the center at dinner time and starts the process all over again for the week.


At the end of our host week, the families, van and cots are moved to the next church in the rotation. And we return the education rooms back to normal.  All of this takes about 65 volunteers to man the shifts for the week.  This process is repeated in about 12 weeks.  There are many ways to be involved in this program which helps our immediate neighbors in need.  The volunteer coordinator for Family Promise at First Church is KATHY JACKSON.  Contact her for more information or to volunteer your time at or 330-714-0860.  Your efforts can make a difference in someone's life...and maybe yours!






Pray for the families that are in the program and for those struggling to enter. Include the Family Promise staff and all the volunteers who make the program a success. Please
pray for our church and its continued commitment to this vital program.

Provide an element to a meal; purchase some of the staples that we need for the week. Provide paper products, drinks (milk, fruit juice etc). Maybe even a case of water…we like to leave bottled water in the rooms for all the guests. Do you like to bake? A home made cookie in a baggie is put on each pillow before the guests arrive. The families appreciate having fresh fruit each night when they arrive back at the church. Could you bring some apples, oranges or bananas to the church during the week?

Do your children like to make cards? We like to put a “welcome to our church” card on each pillow when the week begins. Could your children make some?

Spend an evening with the families; play a game with the children. Lend an ear to the parents. Just be there for them.

Sleep overnight in the church…the easiest assignment of all. Van drivers are always needed in the mornings and the afternoons; no special license is required.

The children enjoy receiving a book and a small tote bag when they arrive. We also like to give a very large tote bag to the parents so they don’t have to use plastic bags to carry their belongings back and forth all week. Keep your eye out for sale books for all ages and reuseable large tote bags.

We also like to provide travel size toiletries to the families. If you are traveling and have access to them at your hotel, consider bringing them back to us. The families love them and cannot purchase these items with food stamps.

Perhaps you have some games that are not being used in your home. If they are complete and in good shape, maybe you would like to share them with us. We always need balls for use in the gym. Most of the children love running after balls in the gym and it tires them out!

Many of our linens are worn out and need to be replaced. Specifically we need new or gently used twin blankets. We will be putting a bath towel, hand towels and wash cloths in each room and have very few at this point. We have a very limited supply of baby items. Maybe you could donate baby wipes, bibs, baby powder and lotion or light weight small blankets for use in portacribs.

If you are an employer, consider calling the Family Promise Center at 330-253-8081 to see if anyone in the program might meet your staffing needs.

The Family Promise Center in Akron can always use paper products and cleaning supplies. Call me if you have anything to donate to them.

Consider if there may be something your teen could do to help with Family Promise at the church. We can pair him/her up with an adult if they would like to take an overnight shift on the weekend or in the summer. Or perhaps they would like to spend the evening playing games with the children. The younger ones love having a teenager to play with!

Hopefully this list will be helpful to you if you decide to assist us in this joyous mission project. If you are interested in donating food, please contact Wanda Jesson at church or myself first. We don’t want anyone to spend time or money on items that might not be needed at that time.

We truly appreciate your support of Family Promise and hope you know that the families are so grateful for your efforts.

Please contact me with any questions, comments or suggestions.

Kathy Jackson

Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it. Hebrews 13:2


Ways to help with Family Promise

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