The network, called Family Promise of North Fulton/DeKalb, with 11 host congregations, allows families to care for the homeless for a week, four times each year, providing sleeping space, meals and indoor bathrooms at the host church, synagogue or tabernacle. The program began in metro Atlanta in January, Director Bill Hardison said.
“The network has been around for 25 years, but several pastors here got together and wanted to start one in metro Atlanta,” Hardison said.
It takes 50 to 75 volunteers from each congregation to run the quarterly program, coordinating meals, sessions and supplies such as furniture, blankets, towels, toiletries and toys.
Families in need are interviewed to ensure there is no substance abuse, violence or mental illness.
Each session includes four Family Promise families or 14 people for a week, with any number of volunteers to care for those families. The congregations assist with perfecting resumes and landing job interviews, as well.
“One family graduated to another program, another found part-time work and we transitioned another to a location by the MARTA line,” Hardison said.
Mary Millar, Dunwoody United Methodist member, said being part of the network fulfilled her desire to give back to the community. Millar volunteered recently and was able to play with the seven children and visit with the four adults staying at her church.
“I was there if they needed anything, and they needed to visit socially,” Millar said.
Millar said one woman sought her out, initiating conversation with her, opening up about how she has grown.
“I was mostly a listener,” she said. “It’s not our place to counsel.”
One of the reasons Millar and her husband, District 40 State Sen. Fran Millar, are drawn to their church is to give back, she said. The recent outreach to help homelessness follows a line of other mission projects.
Volunteers prepared meals and rooms, collected supplies or spent time with the families, church spokeswoman Jenny Carter said.
“Young children from the church played with the Family Promise children and even had dance parties,” she said.
The congregation will host more families near the end of June or early July.