It is truly unbelievable to me that Family Promise of the Verdugos is celebrating its 10th year in operation. Twelve years ago a group of committed people from different backgrounds came together to start a nonprofit to work on family homelessness in our area. As a group, we had very little knowledge about or experience in starting a nonprofit. What we had was the desire to make an impact in our community to provide for families that had no safety net. We had the belief that it should be done and with faith that it could be done.
Those years of organizing were an uphill battle. It seemed like many in the community did not think that family homelessness was a problem in our area and were hesitant to support us because they felt we would be encouraging homeless people to come to our area. It was difficult to find community support and a significant challenge to raise money to start the organization. It took time to convince some people that our ability to help a small population of families would make a big impact in our community, and prove ourselves by helping families in need.
We worked hard and opened in July 2010. In order to do that, we had to raise enough money up front to fund nearly an entire year of operations, find a day center for the families to work on their goals, find congregational partners willing to open their doors and volunteer their time, find a van and drivers to transport the families to and from the day center, and hire a director to make it all happen. We weren’t sure we would be able to stay open past the first year.
So this 10 year anniversary is an amazing accomplishment. Not only did we open our doors as the first Family Promise affiliate in Southern California, our actions led to five other Family Promise affiliates opening in Southern California (plus one more in the organizing stage). Countless families have participated in our program over the years and have been able to regain stable housing and employment. Family Promise of the Verdugos has taken that success and started new initiatives to provide care to chronically homeless families and to start their own transitional housing program with community partners. Regularly on social media, I see people I don’t know recommending Family Promise of the Verdugos as a resource to others who are reaching out to get help. It is a testament to the success of Family Promise in the community.
We have come a long way, and I am incredibly grateful to to all of those who have contributed to this success over the years: all those who helped our efforts organizing to open; all those who made meals, volunteered, scheduled volunteers, stood in the gap, donated money, planned events, spread the word; all those who have contributed to the leadership and health of this organization. This is a celebration for all of us.
Jennifer Smith-Greene Founding Board President Family Promise of the Verdugos