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History

THE BEGINNING

Karen Olson was rushing to a business meeting when she passed a homeless woman on the street. On impulse, Karen bought her a sandwich.The woman, Millie, accepted the sandwich but asked for something more — a chance to be heard. Karen stayed with Millie and listened. What she heard made her understand that homelessness brought profound feelings of diminished self-worth and disconnection from society. Soon after, Karen and her two sons began delivering lunches to homeless people on the streets of New York.

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1986: THE FIRST NETWORK

When Karen learned that homelessness was affecting families right in her own community in New Jersey, she knew she had to do something. But this was much more than giving sandwiches. She brought together people in need and people who wanted to help. Existing community resources could provide shelter, meals, and housing. Volunteers could use their skills, knowledge, and compassion to help their homeless neighbors find employment, reconnect with society, and restore their dignity.

 

She approached the religious community. Congregations offered hospitality space within their buildings. The YMCA provided showers and a family Day Center. A car dealer discounted a van. The first interfaith hospitality network opened on October 27, 1986.

1988: THE NETWORK GOES NATIONAL

As word spread, more New Jersey congregations formed a second network. Other congregations were inspired to develop similar programs. In 1988, we formed the National Interfaith Hospitality Network to bring the program nationwide. In addition to shelter, meals, housing, and job-seeking support, our Affiliates began developing programs for transitional housing, childcare, and homelessness prevention. Nationally, we added programs like Just Neighbors and Family Mentoring.

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1992: POINT OF LIGHT

Family Promise was awarded one of 21 Points of Light, out of a field of more than 4,500 nominees, by President and Barbara Bush, signifying Family Promise as one of the top volunteer agencies in the country. The award recognizes how one neighbor can help another, and calls upon the nation to take action in service to our fellow citizens.

2003: WE BECOME FAMILY PROMISE

We changed our name, from the National Interfaith Hospitality Network to Family Promise, to reflect our broad range of programs and our vision of ending family homelessness. The name refers to the promise, in the sense of commitment, which communities make to families in need. But it also refers to the promise, the potential, inherent in every family.

2012: FAMILY PROMISE OF GENESEE COUNTY IS LAUNCHED

On April 24, 2012, we signed our affiliate agreement with the National office.  Our first three host congregations (Flushing United Methodist, Swartz Creek United Methodist, and Flushing Presbyterian) had already committed and the remaining churches were in process.  Our non-profit status was granted on February 17, 2013, and by the end of 2013 operations were in place to begin hosting families. 

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2014: FIRST FAMILY 

On March 16, 20124, we welcomed our first family into the Day Center.  

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2022: MOBILE HOUSING CRISIS CENTER

In August of 2022, we were awarded a grant that funded our vision of a Mobile Housing Crisis Center. The first of its kind in our community. It will allow us to provide emergency shelter, take basic needs assistance to our 31 partner organizations throughout the county, and give our case managers a place to work with families who don't have transportation. 

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2023: MOBILE HOUSING CRISIS CENTER 2

Spring 2023. Our first-of-its-kind Mobile Shelter Unit

gained a mate. This smaller unit will continue to rotate through our partner organizations. Currently, we rotate every two weeks. The original unit will be parked at the Half Way Home House. 

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2023: HALF WAY HOME

In July 2023 we crossed another milestone in our journey with the rental, of a home. Our large Mobile Shelter Unit is now parked here permanently allowing us to easily house between 3-4 families in emergency shelter at one location. 

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2023: Day Center Relocates

In August of 2023, we moved our Day Center to a new home at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Flint!  This relocation brings us closer to downtown, offering better access to essential services for our families in need. We're grateful for the support of Calvary United Methodist Church and look forward to continuing our mission in our new space. 

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2023: NEW TO US

A grant made it possible for us to purchase the right vehicle to make our emergency shelter program more efficient.  Our Mobile Housing Shelter Units move to our host partners every two weeks from April through October.  Our 2013 van, though still going strong, was not strong enough to safely tow the large mobile shelter. Having this truck will make that possible.  It will also enable us to save money when it comes time to help families move into their forever homes. 

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2024: Rebrand and Grand ReOpening

In 2022, we were awarded a grant to expand into neighboring cities outside the county. Thi

Family Promise 25th Anniversary Retrospective - "Sharing Our Dream, Keeping Our Promise"
Family Promise

Family Promise 25th Anniversary Retrospective - "Sharing Our Dream, Keeping Our Promise"

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