History

THE BEGINNING

Karen Olson was rushing to a business meeting when she passed a homeless woman on the street. On impulse, Karen bought her a sandwich.The woman, Millie, accepted the sandwich but asked for something more — a chance to be heard. Karen stayed with Millie and listened. What she heard made her understand that homelessness brought profound feelings of diminished self-worth and disconnection from society. Soon after, Karen and her two sons began delivering lunches to homeless people on the streets of New York.

1986: THE FIRST NETWORK

When Karen learned that homelessness was affecting families right in her own community in New Jersey, she knew she had to do something. But this was much more than giving sandwiches. She brought together people in need and people who wanted to help. Existing community resources could provide shelter, meals, and housing. Volunteers could use their skills, knowledge, and compassion to help their homeless neighbors find employment, reconnect with society, and restore their dignity.

 

She approached the religious community. Congregations offered hospitality space within their buildings. The YMCA provided showers and a family Day Center. A car dealer discounted a van. The first interfaith hospitality network opened on October 27, 1986.

1988: THE NETWORK GOES NATIONAL

As word spread, more New Jersey congregations formed a second network. Other congregations were inspired to develop similar programs. In 1988, we formed the National Interfaith Hospitality Network to bring the program nationwide. In addition to shelter, meals, housing, and job-seeking support, our Affiliates began developing programs for transitional housing, childcare, and homelessness prevention. Nationally, we added programs like Just Neighbors and Family Mentoring.

1992: POINT OF LIGHT

Family Promise was awarded one of 21 Points of Light, out of a field of more than 4,500 nominees, by President and Barbara Bush, signifying Family Promise as one of the top volunteer agencies in the country. The award recognizes how one neighbor can help another, and calls upon the nation to take action in service to our fellow citizens.

1988: THE NETWORK GOES NATIONAL

As word spread, more New Jersey congregations formed a second network. Other congregations were inspired to develop similar programs. In 1988, we formed the National Interfaith Hospitality Network to bring the program nationwide. In addition to shelter, meals, housing, and job-seeking support, our Affiliates began developing programs for transitional housing, childcare, and homelessness prevention. Nationally, we added programs like Just Neighbors and Family Mentoring.

2003: WE BECOME FAMILY PROMISE

We changed our name, from the National Interfaith Hospitality Network to Family Promise, to reflect our broad range of programs and our vision of ending family homelessness. The name refers to the promise, in the sense of commitment, which communities make to families in need. But it also refers to the promise, the potential, inherent in every family.

2009: FAMILY PROMISE OF SOUTHERN OCEAN COUNTY OPENS

Family Promise of Southern Ocean County opened its doors on January 25, 2009  to address the crucial need for

emergency housing in Ocean County, NJ.

Since then, the number of host congregations has increased to 21 and over 200 volunteers have been recruited to assist with everything from meals to childcare to financial guidance.

2019: FAMILY PROMISE OF SOUTHERN OCEAN COUNTY MOVES TO NEW DAY CENTER AND PROGRAMMING

In April 2019 FPSOC moved into a larger day center.  FPSOC’s Day Center serves as home base during the day for families in the network. It provides an address/phone number for potential employers, access to computers for job/housing searches, and shower/laundry facilities. Families also work with staff on individual needs based programming in order to work towards achieving self-sufficiency. 

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PO Box 83

West Creek, New Jersey 08092

609-994-3317

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