ADDRESSING HOMELESSNESS IS A COMMUNITY DECISION

 What Is Your Decision?

Whether we want to acknowledge it or not, homelessness in our community is real. On any given night, over 10,000 Minnesotans (conservatively) are without a home- and many are children. We see it every day, but many of us tend to look the other way or believe “someone else” will take care of the “problem”; the family begging for change at an intersection, the individuals sleeping in their car in a parking lot, or the disheveled veteran in his camo holding a sign asking for food.

Many in our society today believe being homeless is a result of laziness, lack of initiative, or poor decisions. That’s not the case for most. For those living near the poverty line or low income, a simple event that could be overcome by those with higher incomes (medical bills, car repairs, work injury, child expenses) is just enough to put a family out of their home.  We all know that is occurring more frequently than ever before.

Some believe the answer to “fixing” the homeless problem is to simply get tougher and enact more rules to ban those experiencing the trauma of homelessness from interacting with the rest of society. We know that will not provide any real solution but will allow the community to falsely believe the problem does not exist (Not In My Back Yard; NIMBY). And, we absolutely believe it’s not the Christian way to address a very real social problem that strips the dignity from an individual.

Over three years ago a group of concerned local citizens made the commitment to do something about homelessness in our own communities and established Great River Family Promise. This program provided broad-based support to families experiencing homelessness by providing shelter, food, and fellowship with the ultimate goal or retaining their dignity throughout the process and preparing them for a productive return to our communities.

Through its network of committed church organizations, volunteers, and exceptional and dedicated staff, Great River Family Promise has been blessed to serve over 60 families including over 100 children experiencing the trauma of homelessness in our communities. Great River Family Promise coordinated shelter, food, educational support, and a variety of other services to assist these families return to society and assure the children remained in school during this emotional time. Over 90% of these families obtained permanent affordable housing and the children continued with their education. We are extremely proud of our work and our results.

During these 3½ years we have learned a great deal about homelessness and we learned even more about our communities. One of the biggest lessons we have learned is that helping address such a large social issue requires broad-based community caring, awareness, and support to keep it going. We are appreciative and grateful for the contributions several foundations, businesses, and individuals have made to the cause but we also need broader community support to sustain the initiative. After many months of anxiousness, stress, and emotion we are now forced to make the decision to discontinue our services for families experiencing homelessness in Elk River, Monticello, Otsego, Big Lake, Zimmerman, St Michael, Albertville and Rogers unless we have an influx of financial support to move us forward. The Great River Family Promise Board of Directors has determined a need of $40,000 by August 31 to continue this important ministry for the community.

Our founders knew from the beginning that the communities and the individuals living in them would be the final decision-makers as to whether the Great River Family Promise ministry was a viable service to address the trauma of homelessness and provide support to these families and the children in our communities. We are asking for your support to keep this ministry alive.

If you feel a calling to support our important ministry for our communities please make your contribution or pledge to:

Great River Family Promise

PO BOX 592

Elk River, MN 55330

As indicated, we will need your response by August 31, 2016

The decision is yours.

God Bless