Host Congregations Continuing to Offer Support Despite Pandemic
Due to the pandemic, 2020 looked completely different than other years for our staff, guests, partner congregations and volunteers. Because of this, we are especially thankful for the time and effort many still put forth to show our guests support.
Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart was one of 12 host congregations that continued to provide meals and overnight volunteers for one week every quarter. Despite having fewer volunteers than normal years, their host coordinators focused on offering support to our staff and guest families wherever possible.
“Things had to change a little,” said Natalie Francis, Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart Host Coordinator. With families sheltering-in-place at Westminster Presbyterian Church instead of rotating between our 14 host congregations, volunteers did not have direct contact with guest families for social distancing purposes.
“We have one [household] do each meal right now, when before [the pandemic] we could have groups contribute, and it would be more of a social gathering with the guests,” Natalie added. “Now we take the meals and drop them off for Family Promise staff to provide to the families.”
At Christmas time, the parish gathered new donated gifts for former guest families who are now in the aftercare program. They donated two cars full of gifts, including one entire car loaded with gifts from their youth group.
Even though the bustling of guest families and the laughter of their children is missing from Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart parish right now, Natalie said it’s important that the congregation continues contributing to Family Promise’s mission to help families experiencing homelessness establish stable housing and income.
“We miss the interaction with the guests, but at least [Westminster] is one nice place for them to be. Kudos to that church for being able to house them and everything they’ve done,” Natalie said. Since many of her congregation’s volunteers are staying home and socially distanced, they have enjoyed taking their meal preparations to the next level, hoping to make them extra special. “It’s a way they can still help safely,” she added.