Wellesley Village Church partnered with Christ Lutheran Church, Natick, in 2003, to address the rising number of families without a home in Massachusetts. Today, Family Promise Metrowest is one of 200 affiliates of Family Promise National fashioned on a model created in New Jersey in 1988, which is based on the belief that motivated, hard-working families can move out of homelessness and poverty with encouragement, guidance, and resources to reach their goals. The model was simple. Host congregations opened 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 welcomed guests with meals and hospitality. A day center was the hub of daytime activities where professional staff provided intensive support in accessing community resources and setting goals with families to address the root causes of their homelessness.
“There are countless Family Promise stories about doors which opened
when there did not seem a way; volunteers who appeared with the skills
needed at just the right time; small coincidences or as we might say,
‘graces of God,’ that made transforming so many lives possible.”
Judy Mongiardo, Village Church member and a founder of Family Promise Metrowest
Family Promise Metrowest welcomed its first guests in October 2008 with 12 host and 8 support congregations on board. FPM is now a network of over 2,000 trained volunteers drawn from several dozen congregations, 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 FPM to expand programming to meet the needs of families. In addition to the Shelter Program, a
transitional living program called SAIL ensures sustainability by supporting families for one year after leaving shelter. Steps to Success provides education and career-building opportunities to maximize family earnings. LIFE is a homelessness prevention program which helps families to avoid evictions by providing subsidies for rent in arrears, advocacy with landlords, and professional coaching.
“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 addition, 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 duplex provides an affordable home for up to three years for two families who have graduated from the shelter program and have an adult currently pursuing a degree in higher education.
The COVID19 outbreak caused the suspension of Family Promise Metrowest’s rotation model for host congregations. Families were housed in an inn. Meantime, the Family Promise Metrowest board with input from its community of supporters put in place a new strategic plan and converted space in the day center into a home for three shelter families to replace the rotation model. Congregational and community volunteers continue to provide meals and hospitality.
“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