Family Promise of Cape May County was established in May of 2009, as a program designed to help families who are experiencing homelessness. We are a non-traditional sheltering program that only accepts families with children. A network of faith based organizations and over 1,000 volunteers provide temporary housing and meals for up to 4 families at a time (maximum 14 people).
We have an intake period that takes from 3 - 5 days. Included in this intake process, potential families are screened for drug and alcohol addiction. This requirement assures that the families are a good match for our program.
We are a volunteer based organization and we are funded solely by donations. We take NO government money. We are a program, not an agency. Because of this, Family Promise has strict guidelines for the safety of our families and our volunteers.
With no family emergency shelter in Cape May County, homeless families remain at the mercy of whatever resources are available at the time - usually local motels or shelters in other counties. Both options severely disrupt their lives. Motels have limited cooking, laundry and storage facilities and are an additional expense. Shelters provide no privacy for families with children. So, inconvenience is created for the families who are forced to choose either of these options.
Generally, the children of homeless families must survive in physically unhealthy situations, witness drug use and violence, move from place to place and school to school, make few friends and experience academic failure. Without support or intervention, they, like their parents, may become psychologically vulnerable, and live with feelings of distrust, fear and emptiness that could follow them into adulthood and throughout the rest of their lives.
We believe that it is unacceptable for even one child to be without a home in Cape May County or anywhere in our country.
Family Promise of Cape May County works with homeless families and tailors individualized plans that will help them take the necessary steps toward lasting independence.
Everyday, guest families utilize our Day Center located at 505 Town Bank Road in N.Cape May. The Day Center provides guest families with access to laundry and showers facilities, phone and internet access, a full kitchen, and a small area for each family member to keep their belongings. From there they are provided with transportation, by a van owned by the network, to work, school, appointments and errands. It is also where families work with the Case Manager to develop an individualized plan to regain housing and self-sufficiency.
Family Promise of Cape May County consists of faith congregations from Cape May to Ocean City, which together harness the resources of over 1,000 volunteers. Each evening guest families are transported to hosting congregations where volunteers welcome them as guests into their church or synagogue and provide them with meals, hospitality and overnight accommodations for one week. There are currently 15 hosting congregations in the Cape May County network.
The inspiration for Family Promise began with a woman who regularly encountered homeless people in New York City. Karen Olson, retired President of the organization nationally, came to know many of the city’s homeless people after she and her two sons began to bring food to them. Olson soon learned even in her home community of Union County, NJ, there were hundreds of homeless people, including families.
She looked to the religious community for help, convinced that together they could do what they couldn’t do alone. Within ten months, 11 area congregations came forward to provide hospitality space within their buildings. All the pieces fell into place and on October 27, 1986, the first Interfaith Hospitality Network opened its doors.
In 2003, the organization changed its name to Family Promise to reflect a broader range of programs and reaffirm its core commitment to helping families realize their own potential.
Since then, Family Promise has established 202 affiliates in 42 states, using the services of more than 180,000 volunteers and 6000 congregations. Family Promise provides shelter, meals, housing, and job placement support to more than 60,000 homeless family members annually, 58 percent of them children.
To keep homeless children and their families together during their time of crisis by providing safe shelter and meals in congregational facilities, and to provide support services needed to educate, encourage and empower these families in their quest to re-establish their individual pride and independence.
Mary Ann Castagnetta - President
Tony Monzo, Esquire - Vice President
Trina McSorley - Treasurer
Sandra Jensen - Secretary
Ellen Smith - Bookkeeper
Laurie Johnson - Director
Kathleen O'Neill - Family Advocate
Leif Johnson - Van Driver