Annual Summer Celebration and Silent Auction Returns

The Summer Celebration is back in 2021! The annual silent auction and fundraiser benefiting Family Promise of Greater Des Moines (FPGD) was canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Organizers are excited to hold the event again this year on July 23 at the Giovannetti Center in Urbandale. To maintain social distancing precautions, ticket sales will be limited and attendees are encouraged to purchase the tickets in advance, as they will likely sell out. Tickets are $40 and can be purchased online with the button below:
Purchase Tickets!
“The past year has been challenging for our staff, volunteers and families in our program,” said Jim Cain, FPGD executive director. “We are eager to celebrate the hurdles they’ve overcome in order to continue our mission of serving families experiencing homelessness.”   
The 2021 Summer Celebration will feature live music from One Woman Symphony and a Silent Auction with multiple items up for bid. Food and beverages are also included in the ticket price. A guest family will be in attendance to share their experience overcoming homelessness. 
Anyone who is unable to attend but still wants to support the organization and guest families may purchase “Donation” tickets, available in the same amount as attendance tickets ($40 each), and the funds will be donated directly to FPGD. Donors may purchase as many “Donate” tickets as they’d like with the total amount provided directly as a donation.
All of the proceeds raised at the Summer Celebration directly fund the work of FPGD to provide emergency shelter to families experiencing homelessness, as well as after-care services to help families work towards goals related to security, income and housing.
The generous presenting sponsors of the Summer Celebration are R&R Realty and Sammons Financial.
When: Friday, July 23 at 7 – 9 p.m.
Where: Giovannetti Center, 900 Douglas Ave. Urbandale
Tickets: $40/person 
Purchase Tickets!

2020 - a Lesson in Resilience

Much like a lot of businesses and nonprofits around the world, Family Promise of Greater Des Moines (FPGD) experienced many changes over the past year to daily operations due to the pandemic. Some adjustments, like sheltering in place and social distancing, are hopefully temporary as staff continues to look out for the well-being of guest families and volunteers. Other operational changes proved worthy of becoming more permanent, such as time saving zoom meetings and new sanitizing protocols. While the past year posed big challenges, FPGD Executive Director Jim Cain says the biggest lesson he’s learned since the start of the pandemic is to better plan for the unexpected.
“We had no gloves, no masks,” Jim says about the first days of the pandemic. “We kept hearing about the virus happening ‘over there’. I’ll always have at least three or four boxes of gloves and masks from now on.”
Jim says March through June of 2020 was a blur for him. Working 10-hour days, seven days a week, his initial efforts were focused on keeping families safe then on raising money to offset the increased expenses incurred by sheltering in place. Because he and the staff were caught off-guard by the need for rapid changes like sheltering-in-place and keeping guest families socially distanced, Jim says the entire team experienced shifts in their daily responsibilities to ensure the safety of everyone involved with the organization.
As FPGD Case Manager, LaToya Scott’s job responsibilities typically include helping guest families look for places to live, assisting with job searches or taking them to appointments. But with families sheltering-in-place and social distancing in different areas of Westminster Presbyterian since March of last year, she now sees the families only about once per week.
“My interaction with families has been minimized. I meet with them when I need to and don’t really get to make the connections I did before,” she says. Whereas before the families would congregate in the Day Center next to LaToya’s office, they now stay on the third floor of Westminster where they also sleep and eat socially distanced from other families, staff and volunteers. The guests are very aware of the importance of distancing and keeping interactions to a minimum. “They don’t want to come down to expose anybody,” she explains.
Even though staying separated from other families and volunteers is hard on guest families, LaToya says the families are incredible at adjusting.
“They’re already in crisis mode when they get here,” she says. “Then they come in and have to abide by all these COVID safety rules. They did really well.”
Jai Smith, FPGD Day Center supervisor, says that although families adjusted as they needed to, they still experienced frustrations. With his responsibilities of ensuring guests feel healthy every day and have their needs met for things like toilet paper, toothpaste and personal hygiene supplies, he’s often the first person they see every day.
“Sometimes they vent their frustrations to me,” Jai says. “When you’re stuck with people in one room and can’t visit with the other families or volunteers, it can get frustrating. But they adjusted. It is inspiring that they are still able to do what they can do to get housing.”
Before the pandemic, Jai would work during the day to help guests in the Day Center. Now, he works different hours and keeps their living areas clean and sanitized between guest families who stay there.
“Jai’s job changed a lot because he has to be up on the third floor cleaning up after breakfast and lunch, disposing of expired food kept up there, doing light cleaning and vacuuming,” Jim explains. “When a family exits, there is a protocol to open windows for 12 hours, and we were initially using bleach water to wipe down exposed surfaces.” Now the organization has a Clorox 360 electromagnetic sanitizing machine that disinfects larger areas, thanks to funds provided through the Federal Emergency Solutions Program.
Jim says they will continue to sanitize rooms between guest families, as well as all of the common areas, even after the dangers of COVID hopefully pass. In fact, even though masks and frequent handwashing was requested due to the pandemic, some of these protocols may remain in place for the long run.
“We’ve had hardly any illness this year in part due to physical distancing and masks,” Jim says.
Even with 2020 in the rearview mirror, and the hope that operations will return to “normal” by 2022, Jim says the important lessons learned include the fact that FPGD supporters remain through even the worst of times.
“We couldn’t have done this without the flexibility of the volunteers and congregations,” he says. Even when facts were uncertain about how the virus was spread and most of the world closed down, volunteers still showed up to provide meals and stay overnight with guests. Additionally, Jim said congregations still made their annual contributions, even when they may have experienced reduced collections due to virtual services.  “That they would make those choices to support our guests – that’s incredible.”
There's Still Time to Donate Through Birdies for Charity
Birdies for Charity, a program of the Principal Charity Classic, provides Iowa nonprofit organizations with a unique opportunity to raise additional funds. Thanks to the generosity of Sammons Financial, all donations up to $10,000 made to FPGD through Birdies for Charity matched up to 10 percent. It’s a great way to make your donations go much further!
Donate through Birdies for Charity here!
Board Spotlight - Laura Bjurstrom
Laura Bjurstrom believes we all have a responsibility to care about and lift up other community members. So, after moving to Central Iowa from the Quad Cities in 2018, she was excited to join the Family Promise of Greater Des Moines (FPGD) board in March 2020 because of its impactful mission.
“Ensuring all community members have access to housing, food, education, and economic stability is very important to me,” Laura says. “FPGD does an incredible job mobilizing resources and providing services that help families achieve and sustain those pillars of a healthy life.”
Laura also knew being involved with FPGD would be a great opportunity to form deeper connections with fellow community members. She and her husband, Nathan, have volunteered as overnight hosts and enjoyed meeting some of the guest families FPGD serves. They also volunteered at the November 2020 Comfort Food Cook-off, where she was able to meet other board members in person for the first time.
“It was fun to be a part of the successful event and get out of the house during the pandemic,” Laura says.
Laura and Nathan live in Indianola, and she works at Drake University as an Advancement Officer. In her free time, she enjoys going on walks, biking, reading, listening to books/podcasts, cooking and baking.
2020 Annual Report

Download the report here.


In addition to financial gifts, as-needed supplies are also extremely important to the success of our organization. If you'd like to contribute, please drop off any of the following items at Family Promise of Greater Des Moines, 4114 Allison Avenue, Des Moines, Iowa 50310 from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m. Sunday through Friday or 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. We also have an AmazonSmile Wish List for easy ordering and delivery with just a click of your mouse! 
  • Shampoo
  • Deoderant
  • Men's and women's razors
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Body wash
  • Soap for sensitive skin
  • Towels and washclothes 
Thank you for supporting the families we serve!

Our Mission:
To mobilize our community to help homeless families achieve stable housing
and income through compassionate care, hospitality and professional support.
Host Congregations:
Aldersgate UMC
• Ankeny First UMC
• Faith Lutheran
• First Unitarian
   • Grimes United
   Methodist Church
   • Holy Trinity Lutheran
  • Holy Trinity Catholic     Church
  • Lutheran Church of Hope
• Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart
• Plymouth United Church of Christ
• Ss. John & Paul Parish
• St. Stephen Lutheran
• Urbandale United Church of Christ
• Walnut Hills UMC
• Westminster Presbyterian
• Windsor Heights Lutheran
Support Congregations:
• St. Luke the Evangelist Catholic Church
• St. Pius X Catholic Church
• St. Theresa Church of the Child Jesus
• West Des Moines
  Christian Church

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