2018 has been especially challenging this year for Family Promise. Like much of Carteret County, we were hit hard by Hurricane Florence. Four families who graduated from Family Promise found themselves homeless once again after the storm. The Leon Mann Senior Center served as a shelter for weeks, but that ended, and with the help of some great partners we were able to place 3 of those families in a motel. Unfortunately, they do not know where they will live when their time in the motel is up. With the help of FEMA, the remaining family relocated out of the county. We currently support those 4 families in the motel plus 4 families in house. The total number of individuals is 24. We are also working closely with 43 people in our Outreach Program. These are people who are not eligible for Family Promise.
As a result of the storm, the number of homeless families in Carteret County has soared. Family Promise resources are stretched to the limit. 4 of our 12 host churches had damage from the storm that prevented them from hosting our guests. Housing is almost nonexistent and the county as a whole now has a free and reduced breakfast and lunch rate of 52.5%, as opposed to 41.8% before the storm. That 10.7% increase is an excellent measure of how Florence has resulted in an increase in poverty in our county.
The Family Promise Board of Directors and I would like tot hank you for your support this year and to share with you how we have been good stewards of your offerings. So far in 2018, we have welcomed 47 people into our program, including 39 homeless children.
Our program is evolving based on the needs of our guests. Last year we reported that most of our parents required additional skills in order to succeed. To respond, in January 2018 we began a few new initiatives to our program: Parenting Skills and Financial and Budget Management. As we know good parenting is a must for children to grow healthy and well adjusted. We were able to enroll 12 guests in parenting classes with several local organizations and participate in budgeting and financial classes though Woodforest Bank, because when living on a minimum wage income, learning to budget is important. Guests learn to pay bills on time, use food stamps more wisely, prioritize needs before wants, and everyone learned to start saving.
We were successful getting children settled in school with continued tutorial work and remediation as needed. All children either attend after school programming or child care services. All of our children are doing better in school; reading and mathematics skills have improved, and self-esteem has increased. We helped our guests find jobs and housing. Locating affordable housing was a challenge this year because we have had little support from HUD but homes were found, deposits paid and life was good. Then there was Florence.
We continue to assist homeless individuals that do not meet Family Promise requirements by allowing them a place to take a shower, do their laundry, use our computer lab and have a meal. If they are sleeping in their car, under bridges, on a boat or in a tent, we offer mats, pillows and blankets. We also refer them to county human services for additional support.
As you may be aware Family Promise does not receive any federal, state or local government funding. All of our funding comes from our faith-based community, congregations, local grants, foundations,civic clubs and generous individuals like you. Our 2018 operating budget is $85,000. To date we have received $52,500 from generous supporters. We need $32,500 in order to meet our 2018 budget.
A donation of $200.00 keeps Family Promise operational for one day. A smaller donation of $25.00 will purchase a tank of gas, $100.00 helps a family pay for childcare for the month, and$300.00 covers the deposits for electricity and water as our families complete our program and are ready to exit. We are grateful for your past support and hope that we can count on that same support again now.
Here is our continued promise to you. Together we can change our community for the better – right now – with your tax deductible gift to Family Promise. Please consider making a donation so more families can receive the help and services they so desperately need to achieve lasting stability.
As our community’s homelessness has increased these past months, you continue to be the best partner in ending family homelessness in Carteret County.