Four-year-old Da-nayah Texada read to her brother, Deonte Jr., while the clink of dishes and dinner being prepared echoed from the commercial-size kitchen.
The 2-month-old looked at her wide-eyed as she made up the story based on pictures in the Cinderella storybook. She took the pacifier resting on his small chest and gently put it in his mouth as he began to whimper. Satisfied, he quieted and she continued with her story.
It’s a typical night for the family of five. Deonte Texada, 26, and Regina Hatchett, 24, along with baby Deonte, Da-nayah and Da-janae, 6, were readying for dinner at Trinity Cathedral, the site of that week’s Family Promise shelter.
They had been staying with Family Promise of Sacramento, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping families overcome homelessness, for more than two months.
The Bay Area natives relocated to Sacramento for a less-expensive cost of living, but when jobs didn’t pan out, they quickly fell into a life of hotels and couch-surfing. While other shelters would have split up the quintet, Family Promise sought to keep them together, affording them their own room in a church, though the location changes weekly.
Baby Deonte was born during their tenure at the shelter. One of the pastors drove the family to the hospital.
“It’s a good program,” Hatchett said. “You can stay safe.”
The organization works with 32 congregations throughout the Sacramento region to provide shelter and meals for up to four families per night. Each family can stay up to about 90 days. During the day, trained staff at the Family Promise Day Center help adults apply for jobs and learn life skills, as well as help them find transitional housing while children attend school.
Donna McInytre, a former Family Promise board member, has asked Book of Dreams readers to help purchase 14 rollaway beds and bedding for families that can be transported by the organization from to church to church.
In October, the latest month for which there are statistics, Family Promise took in 99 families, whose average length of homelessness was 166 days. Thirty-nine men, 97 women, 176 children.
“It’s life-changing,” Marsha Spell, executive director, said of the program. “It gives them the support and structure that they’ve never had in their lives, and that’s why it’s so successful. When you establish that for a group of families, you’ve done a good job.”
The dedication of those who volunteer in the churches also contributes to the organization’s success, McInytre said.
“It’s an unconditional caring,” she said, pointing to a volunteer reading the Texada girls stories while other volunteers cooked the dinner of cheesy penne pasta, salad and bread. “This program has grown because of the care of the people.”