By Sue Ferguson and Jane Everham
“Share the Plate” for October raised $3,194.11 for Faith Family Hospitality (FFH), an organization that provides a great service to our community and gives busy Foothills members a way to serve without making a long-term commitment. We have so many new members at Foothills, that it is worth taking time to recount our history with FFH as it approaches its 7th anniversary as a ministry of Foothills Unitarian Church.
During 2011 we became a part of a community-wide effort to address the growing crisis of families experiencing homelessness. Our school district was reporting an alarming number of children whose families didn’t have stable housing and were couch surfing or living in their cars.
Thirty-two faith communities banded together to help. About half the congregations in FFH actually open their buildings and provide a week’s worth of housing to up to four families. The other half serve as support congregations and help out with volunteers and meals as needed. Our partner is Congregation Har Shalom. We were the first partnership to begin hosting families in January of 2012 and have continued to host quarterly each subsequent year.
It’s a process — first we begin to recruit volunteer help using the online app Signup Genius. When the FFH trailer arrives on a Sunday early afternoon, volunteers unload beds and turn the lower level of our RE building into 4 family-friendly guest rooms. Last year Foothills added a much-needed shower facility.
Families arrive between 5 and 6 pm. Volunteers prepare and serve a hot dinner each night and families leave each morning by 7 am after a light breakfast. Most go to jobs and school and they have access to the FFH day center in the Mennonite Church at Matthews and Oak if they need it. They return to Foothills each evening for the whole week.
The following Sunday morning early, volunteers pack up the FFH trailer and the families move onto the next congregation in the annual rotation. Using this system FFH provides food and shelter to four families 365 days of the year. The FFH staff provides case management and helps each family develop and implement a plan that leads to permanent housing. Over 80% of FFH guest families are successful and achieve that goal.
We host again the week of January 20, and will offer an orientation for new volunteers just prior. We have an amazing team of coordinators including Marla Nelson, Danue Laborde, Dannielle North, Julie Pass and Sue Ferguson. Those of us who treasure this work always end up feeling we receive so much more than we give! Please feel free to chat with us, ask questions and consider joining us next year. firstname.lastname@example.org