A Family's Stay in Family Promise’s Interfaith Hospitality Network
A family wishing to enter the IHN must first meet with the Family Services Manager, whose office is at the Day House. During the meeting the parents go through an interview process that includes learning about the program and the requirements for becoming a Network guest family. If the family meets all requirements the family services manager will establish goals with the family and define an exit strategy which will assure that at the end of their stay in the Network the family will move into independent, self-sufficient living.
Once a family has been accepted into the program their daily routine will look something like this: At the end of the day (around 5:00 p.m.), the Family Promise van will transport the families to the facilities of the host congregation. If a family has their own car (and can show proof of insurance and a valid driver’s license) they are allowed to drive on their own and join the other guest families at the overnight facility.
Volunteers greet the families and help each of them to settle into their own private sleeping area. The congregation's volunteers prepared an appetizing evening meal and share it with the guests as all dine together in a family setting. Evening activities for children may include homework, crafts, tutoring, or games. Adults may plan their next day's search for work or housing, read to their children, talk with volunteers, make lunches for the next day or just relax as a family.
Bright and early the next morning the volunteers prepare breakfast and everyone again eats together. Around 7:00 a.m. the families travel back to the Day House in the Family Promise van or their personal cars, where guests shower and prepare for school and the day's activities. At the Day House, which is supervised by Family Promise staff, children are encouraged to play in a safe and secure setting, always under the watchful eye of their parents. Adults pursue their housing and employment searches according to the plan they created, always with the support and, at times, direct assistance from the family services manager.
After school the children return to the Day House for snacks and to relax, sometimes doing homework. At 5:00 p.m. they return to host congregation for the evening meal, hospitality and a good night's sleep.
After a week's stay the families move to the facilities of the next host congregation. Volunteers assist with the relocation by moving the beds. Most host congregations put together a staff of 50 to 70 volunteers to be of service to the guest families during their host week. The Volunteer Manager provide regular training sessions for new volunteers.
Often the relationship between a family and the IHN continues after their stay. The IHN door is always open for families seeking advice and support. Many guests return as volunteers and mentors, helping to create a true community of hospitality.