IRVING, Texas — A few years ago, Connie Jones and her son faced arguably the most tumultuous time of their lives.
Virtually homeless with nowhere to go and no one to turn to, all Jones and her son needed was a much-needed breakthrough, some much-needed encouragement and unconditional love, some much-needed spiritual guidance and wisdom, all of which she sensed would provide her family with the sense of direction they desperately sought.
As Jones recalls, “thank God” Family Promise of Irving, Texas made a stern commitment to aid and uplift them.
From start to finish.
“Family Promise of Irving helped my son and me in so many ways,” Jones said. “God answered my desperate fear filled prayers of help with an abundance of wonderful special people…family.”
A longstanding, non-profit organization that was established in 1981 by New Jersey-based marketing executive Karen Olsen, this faith-based organization’s mission is geared largely toward assisting homeless and low-income families acquire sustainable independence.
VISIT FAMILY PROMISE OF IRVING AT: http://familypromiseirving.org/home/
Also, Family Promise acknowledges that poverty is a “multifaceted problem that requires a multifaceted response,” according to a spokesperson for the organization. Generally, Family Promise is widely known for integrating educational outreach, smart programming, effective policies, and the hands-on work of thousands of volunteers, many of whom assist in providing food, shelter, and support services for homeless families.
“We provide advice and advocacy for at-risk families to prevent their becoming homeless,” a spokesperson for the organization explained. “And we educate people about poverty and the means to combat it.”
In addition, this nationally-acclaimed organization accomplishes its mission through independent affiliates in approximately 42 U. S. states, a number that is steadily increasing. In fact, Family Promise operates primarily through various communities with the guidance of experts or, according to a spokesperson, “people who live there and know it best.”
Among the experts who have become a fixture for Family Promise is Teri Petty. Petty oversees Family Promise of Irving, Texas. Given the strides this local affiliate has made in recent years, it’s safe to assume this establishment in the outskirts of Dallas has benefited this area mightily.
Organized in May 2012, the Irving affiliate was erected, in large part because of the staggering number of children throughout the independent school district who were deemed as homeless, Petty said. According to the director, 857 children were identified as homeless in the Irving Independent School district.
“And that is only the ones of whom we know,” Petty said.
What that generally meant, Petty said, is that 857 children and their families did not have a fixed, regular, or permanent residence. “Imagine not having control of where you sleep every night,” Petty said. “Imagine what it would be like to not know if you are going to be welcome at the same place tomorrow night. Imagine the stress of living on the hospitality or lack of hospitality of friends or family.”
Since its inception nearly three years ago, Family Promise of Irving has served over 26 families, 91 people, 65 of whom were children, Petty said. As Petty acknowledges, the Irving faith community, in conjunction with the affiliate for which she directs have “opened wide their hearts” and buildings to not only provide shelter and food, but also to encourage and provide hope to families experiencing the loss of a place they once called home.
Family Promise of Irving welcomed its first family nearly one month after its inception.
As Jones recalled, the Irving affiliate not only expressed love with no restraints, but members of the organization went to great lengths to demonstrate love, routinely reminding her and her son that facing adversity and shortcomings don’t mean that life isn’t worth living.
“They started out as strangers and became my beloved family,” Jones said. “My son, who is a teenager, said that Family Promise restored his faith and hope in humanity. Indeed, they taught me that there is always love and hope even during my darkest time.”
LaTisha Jarrett, FPI’s volunteer coordinator for West Irving Church of God In Christ, works closely with Petty. Jarrett’s primary responsibilities include recruiting additional volunteers, assembling menus, shopping, and overseeing that various tasks have been implemented, among other things.
“Volunteer coordinators go through training to make sure this is a task that you want to take on,” Jarrett said. “This is all done on a voluntary basis. This is truly a passion that you must have, although it may not be your church’s host week to house the families. As a coordinator, your work is never done. There are meetings, fundraisers, and other volunteer services that are needed as well.”
By all accounts, Family Promise of Irving strives daily to achieve its longstanding mission, which is being a nation in which every family has a home, a livelihood, and the chance to build a better future together.
No one, it seems, can attest to such a life-changing encounter more than Jones and her son.
“They gave us a safe, healthy place to sleep in their churches,” Jones said. “They fed us home-cooked meals and visited with us. They helped me get a job and showed me how to keep a budget plan. They took us to the movies, to a baseball game, and many other events. They were our friends and truly cared about us. I love them all and am forever grateful for them.”
From start to finish.
For more information about Family Promise of Irving or to make a donation, write or call: Family Promise of Irving
P.O. Box 177516
Irving, TX 75017-7516
Teri Petty, Director
Andre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. Based in Dallas, Texas, Johnson also covers the NBA Southwest Division. To reach Johnson, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.