Local congregations work together to help homeless children, families in Cobb County


  Some of Cobb County’s United Methodist congregations will soon begin to give shelter, food and hope to families who have lost their homes.
     “Family Promise of Cobb County (FPCC) is an interfaith organization founded with the mission of addressing the immediate needs of families with children,” said Frederick A. Massey, president of Family Promise of Cobb County. “Our current target is to open our doors in September.”
     “Thirteen ‘host’ congregations will commit to assisting families by providing lodging, three meals a day, and caring hospitality for one week, four times each year, on a rotating schedule,” Massey said. “Additional support congregations will assist our network by providing volunteers, meals, and funds. The number of guests at any one time never exceeds 14.”
     Host congregations that have already committed to the initiative are: Acworth UMC, Covenant Presbyterian Church, St. Andrew UMC, St. Catherine's Episcopal Church, Transfiguration Catholic Church, Mt. Zion UMC, Pilgrimage United Church of Christ, and Unity North Atlanta Church.
    Several others are strongly considering hosting, or assisting the effort.
     “Our program will provide not only food and overnight shelter for homeless families, but also transportation and other vital services,” Massey said. “Each day, we will transport families from the congregation where they are staying that week to our day center, where our paid program director will assist them with obtaining housing, as well as employment as needed.”
     The Family Promise of Cobb County day center will have computers, desks, and telephones for parents to use while seeking long-term housing and employment. The center will also include facilities where guests can take showers, wash clothes, and where families can care for their younger children. School-age children will board the school bus each day at the day center to attend classes at the same school they attended prior to losing their homes.
      “In the evenings, volunteers from the host congregations will provide hospitality to their guest families, including cooking and serving dinner, socializing, playing games with the children, and helping with homework. Two volunteers will stay overnight with the guests, as well.”
      Family Promise of Cobb County initially plans to house up to four families at one time. The average stay for families in Family Promise programs nationwide is 57 days, and 80 percent of the families leaving the program move on to stable, long-term housing.
     Massey believes that a clear need exists for Family Promise of Cobb County.
     “Currently, the capacity of the homeless shelters in Cobb is not sufficient to meet the needs of homeless families,” he said. “One homeless shelter recently reported that, during the past six months, an average of 26 families with 53 children was turned away each month due to lack of space in their facility. According to Cobb County and Marietta school system records, there were approximately 1,800 homeless children in Cobb County last year. These facts confirm a pressing need for the services that Family Promise will provide.”
      Family Promise of Cobb County, Inc. was formed in July, 2012, and has received IRS approval as a 501(c) (3) non-profit.  FPCC is an independent affiliate of Family Promise, a national organization founded in 1988. To find out more about Family Promise of Cobb County and to donate to this cause, visit www.familypromisecobbcounty.org.