Wellesley Village Church partnered with Christ Lutheran Church, Natick, in 2003, to address the rising number of families without a home in Massachusetts. Family Promise Metrowest is one of 200 affiliates of Family Promise National and uses a model created in New Jersey in 1988, which is based on the belief that families can move out of homelessness and poverty with encouragement, guidance, and resources to reach their goals.
The model is simple. Host congregations open their doors one week at a time, three to four times a year, to provide overnight housing by converting classrooms into bedrooms for up to four families. Volunteers from congregations and the wider community welcome guests with meals and hospitality. The Family Promise Day Center in Natick is the hub of daytime activities. Professional staff provide intensive support in accessing community resources and setting goals with families to address the root causes of their homelessness.
After a five-year process of development Family Promise Metrowest welcomed its first guests in October 2008 with 12 host and 8 support congregations on board. Family Promise Metrowest is now a network of 3,500 trained volunteers drawn from 50 congregations and scores of civic organizations, community foundations, businesses, schools and the community at large, who provide hospitality, financial resources, professional expertise, in-kind donations, and outreach. This extraordinary base of support has allowed Family Promise Metrowest to expand programming to meet the needs of families. A transitional living program ensures sustainability by supporting families for one year after leaving shelter. Steps to Success provides education and career-building opportunities in order to maximize family earnings. LIFE was introduced to prevent evictions by providing subsidies for rent in arrears, advocacy with landlords, and case management to prevent families from becoming homeless.
“When we first started volunteering, we especially wanted to help the children. We learned more about what some of the parents had been through that brought them to this point in their lives, and we came to understand that we were meeting some of the most extraordinarily strong and inspiring individuals we would ever encounter. They humbled us and touched our hearts deeply.”
Diana Carroll, Village Church member and Family Promise Metrowest volunteer
In December 2019, two families settled into Family Promise Metrowest’s Bacon Street home, a transitional living house built in partnership with the Natick Affordable Housing Trust and Keefe Regional Technical School. A generous donation from Wellesley Village Church helped to make this dream possible. The new duplex provides an affordable home for up to three years for families who have graduated from the shelter program and have an adult currently pursuing a degree in higher education.
The COVID19 outbreak caused a temporary suspension of Family Promise Metrowest’s rotation model for host congregations. Shelter families are living in a residence hotel while continuing to take part in the program. Gift cards for groceries, school clothes, and cleaning supplies have been donated.
“All the money in the world cannot buy or substitute for people of all different backgrounds, faiths and beliefs expressing their love for one another in an active, exhilarating context. We made friendships with other families and learned and benefitted from counselors and activities, which continue to enrich our lives today.”
Rob, former guest
The interfaith network Village Church created is a testament to the power there is when diverse communities unite in their shared vision of serving those in need. Among the many success stories:
- The hard-working single mom who qualified and won the lottery for a Habitat for Humanity House in Holliston
- The babysitters who watched her boys on weekends so she could complete her sweat equity in the construction
- The volunteer crews from congregations, businesses and civic organizations who worked beside her
- The Holliston congregations who hosted a house-warming shower to welcome her
- The class of Mass Bay Framingham students who outfitted her kitchen and bathroom
- The retired teacher who tutored the boys while in shelter and until they adjusted to their new schools
“There are countless other such stories: doors which opened when there did not seem a way; volunteers who appeared with the skills we needed at just the right time; small coincidences or as I prefer, ‘graces of God,’ that made transforming so many lives possible.”
Judy Mongiardo, Village Church member and founder of Family Promise Metrowest