The new Family Promise Hospitality Center, right between Wilmington and Newark on Milltown Road, was just the setting for this year’s holiday gift pick-up.
Set on the grounds of the Jesus House Prayer and Renewal Center, the homey cottages and wooded landscape gave the event a feel that is far from institutional. A stream of volunteers carried cellophane-wrapped baskets of cleaning supplies topped with bows – a useful present to go along with holiday gifts from 260 Family Promise clients’ individual wish lists, which were purchased by companies, congregations and individuals in the community.
These clients are members of families who are homeless, or were homeless at some point in 2018 when they were served by the nonprofit. Five families now live in the two cottages, which can house up to 20 people. The cottages, previously used for prayer retreats, have kitchens and shared living space with a table and, for the holidays, a brightly decorated tree.
“People will say ‘I don’t feel homeless here,'” said Ryan Catalani, Director of Donor Relations for Family Promise of Northern New Castle County.
The center opened the day after Thanksgiving, and was full to capacity within 24 hours.
“The families who stay here may have challenging situations for traditional homeless shelters,” said Catalani. “We’ve had a large family of seven, a single father with kids, a family with an 18 year old daughter still in high school, a married couple with kids. We were able to keep them all together here.”
Most families average about 45 days living in a Family Promise facility, during which time the organization works to help get them back on their feet.
“The goal is always to find permanent housing,” said Catalani.
For those looking to give back, Family Promise needs volunteers all year round – to learn more, go to familypromisede.org.-30-