Magical Time for Hosts and Guests
During Christmastime, many of us think of cozy fires, presents under the tree and a warm home filled with family. For Family Promise of Greater Des Moines' guests, the holidays look a lot different. That’s why our host congregations make a special effort to make Christmas a joyous time for families. 
Ankeny First United Methodist Church hosted families the
week before Christmas, paying extra attention to details to help families create happy holiday memories together. Coordinators Pam Heilskov Zivley and Jan Temeyer planned a week full of festivities the whole family could appreciate. One evening, guests painted wooden and paper ornaments, which are theirs to keep. They spent another evening stringing popcorn and cranberries into a garland for the tree in the dining room. Families decorated (and ate) sugar cookies and enjoyed mulled cider — a first for some of the guests! Several of the evening hosts even brought gifts for the families, especially the children. 
“They are carrying out the command to care for the least of God’s people,” said Pam. “They can truly be the hands of Christ working for other children of God at a holy time.”
The First Unitarian Church of Des Moines will be hosting the families the week of Christmas, starting with a nice, big, holiday meal at 3 p.m. on Christmas Eve. Rev. Erin Gingrich said guests will then be invited to join the service or spend time together doing crafts and waiting for Santa to arrive. The church even organized a giving tree for the children, so parents will have presents for their kids.  
“It’s a wonderful, really intentional week of hosting,” said Rev. Erin. “The holidays are such a joyous time for children — and their parents — so we wanted to create a space for them to enjoy.”
The host coordinator, Susan Huber, has arranged for families to enjoy a hot breakfast Christmas morning and a traditional Christmas dinner in the afternoon. Parents will be asked if they’d like to help make the special meal so they can incorporate some of their family favorites. Christmas evening will include crafts, cookie decorating and a drive to look at the lights. 
These congregations are doing everything they can to create an amazing holiday for the families they’re hosting. In the true spirit of Christmas, guests are returning the gift by giving the congregations a sense of community and a shared vision of making home on Earth better for all children of God. This time of year is especially significant for the families we serve, as well as volunteers who serve them. 
As Rev. Erin said, “There are people looking for a room at the inn…sounds familiar, doesn’t it?”
Van Theft
Unfortunately, even as we work so hard to help others, we are
not immune to crime ourselves. In late November, we had the
gas in our Family Promise of Greater Des Moines van stolen in the middle of the night. A volunteer picked up the van from the Westminster parking lot, and as she drove down I-235, she noticed the gas gauge on empty. She pulled off at the nearest exit, but immediately ran out of gas. She was able to get gas
from a nearby station, but as she tried filling the tank, she
noticed gas was leaking underneath the van. She parked the van and set about making alternate transportation arrangements for our guests.
When Executive Director Jim Cain arrived at the parked van, he inspected underneath and discovered that someone had drilled a hole in the gas tank to steal the gas! He used chewing gum and duct tape to plug the hole and drove the van to Drake Garage where it is usually serviced. Jim then rented another van to get guests back and forth between the host congregations and the Day Center while the van was being repaired. 
But hope was never lost! Drake Garage stepped up and donated the cost of the parts and labor to replace the gas tank. Through the generosity of donors, over $1,600 was raised to pay for the rental van. Thank you to all who helped us through a rought time.
2017 Comfort Food Cook-Off
This year’s Comfort Food Cook-Off was again a big success. Many of our host congregations, sponsors and volunteers contributed their best home-cooked dishes to showcase for event participants. We raised $11,000 to help families experiencing homelessness receive much-needed shelter and support for finding stable employment and permanent housing. Thanks for all who cooked and attended!
Top to bottom: Jackie Schmillen from CW Iowa Live, and Jen and Taylor from Life 107.1 judged the food competition; Walnut Hills United Methodist Church won the coveted "Silver Pot Trophy" with "Pizza Chili Supreme."; Windsor Heights Lutheran Church won “People’s Choice” award for their "Spaghetti Pie."
Hope from a Family Promise Guest
When listening to Sadie talk about her day-to-day adult responsibilities, it’s hard to believe she just turned 18. She’s polite, soft spoken and careful with her word choices as she describes her life taking care of her ailing mother, working full-time making sandwiches at Jersey Mike’s, encouraging her boyfriend of four years as he searches for a job and helping raise their 17-month old daughter, Serenity. She didn’t ask for this life, but Sadie is handling it as gracefully as a teenager can.
Sadie and her family are homeless. She, along with her mother Pam, her boyfriend Xavier and Serenity, are staying as guests this week in the Gathering House at Faith Lutheran Church.
Her mother suffers from debilitating health issues ranging from clogged arteries to 30 percent total lung capacity at the age of
59. With her mother unable to work, Sadie dropped out of high school to work full time supporting her family. She’s held her job at Jersey Mike’s for more than a year, but it is not enough to pay for housing. Although Xavier takes care of Serenity during the day, they are hopeful he will get a job he recently interviewed for.
“We were stone-cold broke when we came here,” Sadie said matter-of-factly as she motions around the room at the Gathering House. “But I have to believe everything happens for a reason.”
The help provided by Family Promise of Greater Des Moines came right when the family needed it most. After being evicted from their apartment, they had been moving from motel to motel for a month until they ran out of money. They were referred to Family Promise, and Sadie is saving up, hoping to have enough for a new home soon. The help she has received has kept her hopeful for a better future.
“LaToya gives me bus passes to get to work,” Sadie said. “And Jim has even given us cash for bus fair.” At Serenity’s last well check, her daughter’s pediatrician surprised Sadie by gifting the family $200 of her own. “I cried,” Sadie said.
In spite of it all, Sadie stays optimistic. “I have a positive outlook on life. If you believe you can’t do it, you won’t,” she said. She has hopes of finishing high school sooner than later, but said right now, she needs to be taking care of her family. She turns to two little girls playing with Serenity who are also guests at the Gathering House that week. “Stay in school you guys,” she says with a smile. Words of wisdom from one young lady to the others.
It's not too late to make a year-end, tax-deductible donation to Family Promise of Greater Iowa. Please prayerfully consider making a donation either online or by mailing to:
Family Promise of Greater Des Moines
4114 Allison Ave.
Des Moines, IA 50310
Thank you for supporting the families we serve! We wish you and your family a wonderful holiday season and a very blessed 2018!

Our Mission:
To mobilize our community to help homeless families achieve stable housing
and income through compassionate care, hospitality and 
professional support.
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• First Aid supplies
  • Cold/flu medicine
  • Adult winter hats/gloves
  • Children’s books
For more information, visit
Host Congregations:
• Aldersgate UMC
• Ankeny First UMC
• Faith Lutheran
• First Unitarian
• Holy Trinity Lutheran
• Lutheran Church of Hope
• Our Lady’s Immaculate
• 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:
• Holy Trinity Catholic
• St. Pius X Catholic Church
• St. Theresa Church of
  the Child Jesus
• West Des Moines
  Christian Church

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