Lashea Edwards was living at a motel in Rancho Cordova with her two daughters when she heard about Family Promise of Sacramento. A rent increase had forced the single mother from her home in July, and despite working full-time as an administrator for a medical transportation firm, Edwards could not find an affordable house.
Edwards and her family stayed with Family Promise for 90 days until recently getting into transitional housing earlier this month. Family Promise is a nonprofit that allows families to stay overnight in different local churches while parents work to secure housing. On a cold weeknight in November, the Edwards family sat down at a church for pizza and salad.
“It’s not just a roof over our head,” said Edwards, 38. “It’s a support system and a family system and they want to make the situation as easy as possible.”
Edwards’ daughter Breajanae, 11, chimed in. “It still lets us get hope,” she said.
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Family Promise is a faith-based network of 30 churches in Sacramento County that offer shelter and other services. The organization has asked Book of Dreams readers to help purchase rollaway beds to replace multiple cots that have deteriorated.
“Sleeping in a bed with proper sheets and a nice comfy blanket makes all the difference in (our client’s) attitude and their outlook toward life,” said Marsha Spell, executive director of Family Promise of Sacramento.
About 99 percent of families enter some sort of housing upon graduating the program, Spell said. Parents who enter the program must be sober and attend life coaching classes to help them reach self-sufficiency. The curriculum includes résumé writing and management of personal finance.
“The most important is budgeting,” said Frances Myers, a Family Promise board member. “People don’t live within their means. From the first day they come in, that’s their main concentration.”
While most families stay for about 90 days, some families stay up to six months, the director added. The organization receives up to 150 calls per month from families who need help, but can only accommodate four families at a time.
On Nov. 20, Shana and Tom Munch, two program graduates, moved into a three-bedroom home in Olivehurst with their 16-year-old daughter Emma. The day marked a 20-year journey back to home ownership for the family. In 2014, they were living in a motel before connecting with Family Promise. The family graduated from the program after 47 days.
“I can have a garden in the backyard again, and our dogs can run free without restrictions,” Shana Munch said in praise of her new home.
The toughest part of being homeless, she said, is constant judgment. People “lump you into a category. It makes you feel lesser, insignificant,” she said.
Family Promise helped the Munch Family organize personal finances and fill out government paperwork, and introduced Shana to a female empowerment course that she credits with helping her secure a job with the city of Roseville.
“It kept us off the streets, kept our family together, kept our pets with us, and that’s what mattered,” Shana said. “They saved us.”
Needed: 16 rollaway beds and bedding for Family Promise of Sacramento