Stamping out family homelessness this Saturday at AT&T Field.
Most of us are so accustomed to having a roof over our heads, clothes, food and even heating and air conditioning that living without them is unimaginable. Unfortunately, not everyone is so lucky.
The work homeless shelters and soup kitchens do is amazing, but one organization, Family Promise of Greater Chattanooga, stands out in my book due to their mission to work exclusively with families, meaning a parent and a child 18 or younger.
“Families stay together at night, which in my mind is a really big deal,” said FPGC board member Nina Ventra.
Ventra explained that other shelters often separate family members into gender-specific dorms, but Family Promise partners with 51 local churches for sleeping arrangements to keep families together, reducing the family’s stress and anxiety levels during their stay.
During the day, families have access to the FPGC Day Center on Baldwin Street. Ventra emphasized that the center is a place designed for children. In addition to a kitchen, laundry room, and living room, the Day Center has an outdoor playground, playroom, nursery and a computer lab where kids can work on their homework after school.
Family Promise doesn’t just provide a safe place for children and a place where families can stay together; the organization is a stay-in program, meaning families stay until they no longer need help.
“Everybody’s situation is different. We have to take a look at it and evaluate it,” said Ventra. She explained that every case manager working with a family looks to find sustainability in their life, including finding them a suitable house, assisting them with job searches, and offering parenting classes if needed, so that families are able to get back on their feet—and stay there.
To continue helping both homeless and near-homeless families, as well as raise community awareness about family homelessness, Family Promise is holding its sixth annual Camp Out to Stamp Out Family Homelessness at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 1 through 7 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 2, at AT&T Field.
Participants will build a house in “Box City” for the night, using a provided cardboard box and materials, and eat their meals at a soup kitchen. Additionally, there will be a scavenger hunt, games, crafts, music and a contest for the best box house built. People may also bring blankets, pillows, and sleeping bags for their home and any materials they wish to use decorate their box, provided they are on the list of approved items available online after registration.
Those interested in participating should visit familypromisechattanooga.com to purchase tickets. There is an additional $10 fee for entering the contest. All proceeds from the event will benefit FPGC.
So spend a night in someone else’s world and gain a better understanding of the difficulties millions of Americans suffer through every day. With a little support and community involvement, we can become one step closer to helping FPGC stamp out family homelessness in Chattanooga.
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For more information about Camp Out and FPGC including how to donate or volunteer, visit familypromisechattanooga.com.