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Lancaster County, with a history of reaching out and offering a helping hand, is known as a caring community.
This notion has been reinforced by the work of a group of area churches that want to help homeless families. About a year ago. Family Promise began work to help area homeless families. Through the work of planning, pushing forward and prayer, the program is close to becoming reality.
The idea of a displaced family hanging out at Wal-Mart all night, or sleeping in a car are some of the past images, which will hopefully be erased with the program. Family Promise is a nonprofit organization that helps religious and community organizations develop and operate homeless shelter network programs. Some 20 years ago, the program was started in Summit, N.J.
Lancaster is the fourth South Carolina city to start a network. Thirteen Lancaster churches have stepped forward to help with the program. Those churches include Calvary Baptist, Covenant Baptist, First Baptist, First Presbyterian, First United Methodist, Grace United Methodist, Moriah Baptist Association, Pleasant Hill United Methodist, Second Baptist, Sherwood Baptist, St Catherine Catholic, St. Luke United Methodist and Zion United Methodist.
Securing the 13 churches was a major step in getting the program operating. Those dedicated churches will provide sleep shelters for homeless families on a rotating basis.
Family Promise organizers here are pleased to have that number, but they encourage other churches to also step up and help.
“I’m excited to tell people about it,” said Glenn Steen, vice president of the network’s board of trustees. “I’ve never seen so many churches do anything like this before.” The group is now focusing on its next project of renovating its recently acquired day center on Arch Street. The center will serve as the Family Promise office and house families from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily.
The center will offer the families a place to wash clothes, bathe, job hunt and work toward being self-sufficient.
The center allows parents to work on certain skills while their children are in school.
The cost of renovating the center is $15,000. The group is looking for help with donations, fundraisers and grants. Folks with carpentry skills, who want to help, are welcome and some members of the church network are already doing so.
If you can’t help by lending a hand, there’s always the opportunity to give a donation.
Any amount would be welcomed and would aid in the center renovation project.
If you want to help or would like more details, call 283-8406, or visit promiselancaster.org. Donations can be mailed to PO Box 854, Lancaster, S.C., 29721.
The hope is to have the program helping families by the first of the year. It will happen, but it will happen quicker as more caring people step forward to help. Doing so continues building on Lancaster County’s reputation as a caring community.