Marissa is a 5-year-old girl with a spring in her step. She has places to go and people to see, and she brings joy to everyone she touches. She is full of questions and quirky answers, in the fashion of a two-year-old. Her parents, Kimmi and Doug, struggle to make ends meet with their jobs at fast food restaurants. The couple is able to stagger their schedules from early morning to late at night to avoid as much as possible debilitating childcare costs. Just keeping their head above water, managing a tight schedule, living on few finances and running on little fumes to keep going is a harrowing daily plight. There is no room for variance. Then, the crisis comes comes – a medical emergency, a broken down car, reduction in hours, the grief of a close family member’s death or suicide. For the families we serve at Family Promise of North Idaho, the weight of one or more of these stressors will sink them.
Family Promise is a local response to a national crisis, helping homeless families build new lives. We partner with the faith community and beyond to provide safe and hospitable overnight shelter and meals through a network of 18 host and support congregations. Couples, friends and families come together to host our families within the walls of a local congregation. Grandparents even bring their grandchildren to host because it is a non-threatening act of social justice, but even more so, hosting Family Promise families is a simple act of human kindness.
We celebrate Family Promise Week from October 16 to October 23 to commemorate what we have done together as a community. In our eight years of operation, our community has offered 115 families the gift of new hope. Over 600 volunteers have served our families through meals, overnight hosting, participating in our vanpool, organizing volunteers, setting up beds, doing laundry, helping in our office – and the list goes on! We have had 25 congregations in our network that include the communities of Spirit Lake, Newman Lake, Dalton Gardens, Hayden, Post Falls and Coeur d’Alene.
At Family Promise of North Idaho, we have a passionate board that works for the good of the families we serve, and we are always looking for ways to serve the community. Every congregation who works with us has a mighty army of compassionate “doers” who make hospitality transformational. We have two vans that have been donated to us; we have a tremendous partnership with our Day Center site, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. The Kroc Center provides memberships, access to showers and life skills classes to our guests. The Holiday Inn Express and Best Western Coeur d’Alene Inn have made magical Christmas memories for our families in the past, as has the Panhandle Kiwanis Club.