(Curbside) Comfort Food Cook-Off - November 14

Following the success of last year’s Curbside Comfort Food Cook-Off, we’re doing it again! To ensure the health and safety of participants, we’ll be packaging up and providing delicious comfort food straight to your car for enjoyment at home. The Comfort Food Cook-Off is one of two annual fundraisers that supports our mission to help families experiencing homelessness.
Just like other years, several of Family Promise of Greater Des Moines host congregations join in friendly competition to make the best comfort food dish. Two awards will be provided for the tastiest dishes – the People’s Choice award, voted for by event participants, and the Traveling Pot Trophy, awarded by our celebrity guest judges. We’ll be broadcasting on Facebook Live throughout the evening to keep participants updated while they enjoy their comfort food at home (sweatpants encouraged!)
Purchase Tickets!
Participating is easy and convenient:
  • Purchase tickets online. Choose the time you want to pick up your food from the available tickets (last year we sold out quickly, so don’t wait!)
  • Purchase a ticket for each person participating (read: eating delicious food). We package up generous samples of each dish for each participant and bag them for easy pick-up and transportation.
  • We deliver your pre-packaged food straight to your car at your designated pick-up time.
  • You’ll be provided with a list of the dishes and instructions for voting online. The winner of the People’s Choice award is the congregation with the most votes ($1/vote – and vote as many times as you’d like!) All proceeds from the event and votes go toward supporting Family Promise of Greater Des Moines guest families.
Our celebrity judges, Jen and Taylor from Life 107.1 FM and Jackie Schmillen from We Are Iowa 5 will be on-site and providing fun Facebook Live videos while they taste and review the dishes and keep those eating at home informed (and entertained). Judges will announce the Pot Trophy Winner via FB Live at 6 p.m. the night of the event, and we will announce the winner of the People’s Choice award November 15 on Facebook and through email.
Thank you to our presenting sponsors Nationwide and F&G.
Purchase Tickets!

Thank You to Outgoing Host Congregations Windsor Heights Lutheran, St. Stephen Lutheran

Family Promise of Greater Des Moines (FPGD) would be nothing without the contributions of our Host Congregations, some of which have been with us since the beginning. Windsor Heights Lutheran Church and St. Stephen Lutheran Church have worked tirelessly to support the FPGD mission since its inception in 2004.
We’ve had Host Congregations come and go over the years, as they shift their focus to other missions or struggle to secure the volunteers and resources necessary to stay involved. After 17 years of dedication to our guests and our mission, the time to move on has come for Windsor Heights and St. Stephen. These congregations and their volunteers have been incredible assets to FPGD and they deserve our wholehearted gratitude.
We asked Pastor Chris Olkiewicz at Windsor Heights Lutheran and co-coordinator Andrea Heerdt at St. Stephen Lutheran to share a little about their time working with FPGD on behalf of their respective congregations:
Q: What impact did this work have on your congregation?
A: “We’ve always felt that we are contributing in a concrete way to assist [FPGD guest] families over a rough spot in their lives,” Heerdt said, “… While they are in our care, providing meals, a safe place to sleep at night, and transportation back and forth to the day center (as needed) contributed to their well-being during these times of transition.”
“It certainly increased our awareness of the challenges faced by homeless families in the community and inspired us to respond compassionately and generously,” said Olkiewicz.
Q: What has your congregation learned from this partnership?
A: “Homes and housing are things that should never be taken for granted as they seem to be beyond the reach of many struggling with unemployment, family issues and crisis in their personal lives,” said Heerdt.
“Many volunteers from the congregation have stories about conversations they have had with families while serving as overnight hosts or sharing meals,” Olkiewicz said, “The experience really put a face on homelessness. We have liked being able to help at least some homeless folks in this way, even though the larger problem of homelessness remains daunting.”
Though the host partnership has come to an end for now, the mutual impact of these congregations’ involvement will carry on. Once again, we extend our thanks to Windsor Heights Lutheran Church and St. Stephen Lutheran Church for their years of valuable support. As for future partnerships, Olkiewicz offers his recommendation:
“You should do it,” said Olkiewicz, “Serving hands-on, face-to-face will help you see the human dimension of homelessness, that the homeless are fellow human beings and not mere numbers and statistics.”
Welcome Skye Lawson to Family Promise
We were very fortunate to welcome Skye Lawson this summer as Family Promise of Greater Des Moines (FPGD) Development and Communications Coordinator. Skye is responsible for helping with our marketing and communication efforts as well has helping with fundraising initiatives and communication.
As a recent Drake University graduate, Skye has a dual bachelor’s degree in Strategic Political Communications and Rhetoric, Media and Social Change. She also minored in Writing with a concentration in Women and Gender Studies.
Although Skye had moved back home to Springfield, MO, after graduation, she applied for the position with Family Promise for a personal—and coincidental— reason.
“I knew I wanted to do communications for a nonprofit or some sort of social welfare organization,” Skye said. Until her final semester in college, she hadn’t considered focusing on services for people experiencing homelessness and then she heard FPGD Executive Director Jim Cain speak in a Homelessness in America course. When she started looking for jobs after graduation, she saw the Family Promise job position, and “it felt like a sign!”
Skye says she’s already learned a lot about homelessness, specifically that it doesn’t just affect adults or older teens. “Now I see that entire family units experience homelessness, and I’m more aware of just how easy it can be to end up in a situation where a home is unattainable.”
She says she really enjoys interacting with guest families and finds it especially gratifying when families graduate from the program.
“When I hear that someone is going to pick up the keys to their new apartment or something equally as exciting, I feel grateful to be even a small part of it,” she says.
Guest Families Shelter at The Gathering House
Though we had all hoped to return to normal by now, growing concerns regarding COVID-19 variants have led Family Promise of Greater Des Moines (FPGD) to adjust operations once again. Since the onset of the pandemic, FPGD has managed to avoid contracting COVID-19 in staff or guest families by taking every possible health and safety precaution and sheltering in place at Westminster Presbyterian Church. After a short-lived return to weekly host rotations, sheltering in place has resumed and will continue through the end of 2021.
“I felt an obligation to the guests to once again adopt a method of shelter that better allowed for social distancing,” said FPGD Executive Director Jim Cain.
Thanks to the generosity of Faith Lutheran Church, FPGD guest families will reside full-time now at what Faith Lutheran calls “The Gathering House.” The Gathering House is a duplex with plenty of space for three families, as well as staff and volunteers, to maintain social distance. Guest families have private bedrooms on the lower level, while a bedroom upstairs remains open for overnight volunteer hosts. A large activity room has been converted into a dining area with tables spaced 6-feet apart. An air purifier also runs in the room during mealtimes since it’s the only time guests are unmasked in common space.
“The most significant difference between hosting at Westminster and at The Gathering House is the dining,” Cain said, “We have a large enough space at The Gathering house now for distancing, which means that guest families may eat their meals outside of their rooms.”
The typical weekly host rotations remain a part of the shelter-in-place plan. During their host week, congregations send volunteers to provide dinner and serve as the overnight host. Paid staff are also present to oversee mealtime and ensure social distancing measures. Should a host congregation be unable to provide volunteers, FPGD staff will fill in. Day Center Supervisor Jai Smith and Case Manager Latoya Scott will also be operating out of The Gathering House during this time.  
Download the 2020 Annual Report


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! 
  • Shower products
  • Deodorant
  • Men's and women's razors
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Backpacks
  • Makeup
  • Children's and adult coloring books
  • Towels and washcloths 
  • Diapers/Overnight Pull-ups
  • Cleaning supplies
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
   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
• Urbandale United Church of Christ
• Walnut Hills UMC
• Westminster Presbyterian
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
  • Windsor Heights       Lutheran

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