EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 11, 2012

Network of homeless shelters expands

State's network of homeless shelters continues to see growth

By John Toole jtoole@eagletribune.com
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — DERRY — Family Promise of Greater Rockingham County aims to open a day center for homeless families early next year at Calvary Bible Church.

A network of more than a dozen churches in western Rockingham County is backing Family Promise’s efforts to help the homeless and will host the families at night.

The group is two years into its campaign and close to realizing key goals to make life better for more than 150 families.

“This is very exciting for us,” said Melanie Nesheim, the group’s president.

“In a country as rich as ours, we should not have homeless children,” Nesheim said.

The regional campaign extends from Kingston to Londonderry and even crosses into Pelham in neighboring Hillsborough County. Fifteen congregations are involved, 10 that will host families at night.

Family Promise has an agreement with Calvary Bible Church to lease space at the church’s Hampstead Road complex in East Derry.

Nesheim said the day center could open as soon as January if fund-drive goals are met.

Family Promise wants to raise close to half of its projected annual budget to open the center. It has about $44,000 now and needs $60,000.

Nesheim said the group plans to hire a network director who would serve client families.

The center would be a warm, safe place for them during the day before they stay at cooperating churches overnight.

“They can shower there and do laundry,” Nesheim said.

There also would be advice and counseling for families to help them escape homelessness.

“They would work on the issues that led them to homelessness,” she said.

The program would ask families to save 75 percent of the money they earn to put toward future housing expenses.

The philosophy is simple: “Do what you need to do to get back into permanent housing,” Nesheim said.

Family Promise is buying a 16-passenger bus to transport the families between the center and the partner churches.

Nesheim said the group needs another $16,000 to meet its goal.

“If we blow through that goal, it would be even better,” she said.

Family Promise got a boost Friday when it learned the Salem Exchange Club was donating $3,000.

“That is our second-biggest single gift,” Nesheim said.

An anonymous donor previously provided a $5,000 gift, requiring Family Promise to match it with other gifts. The group met that condition.

Now, people are being invited to become “founding partners.” Those who agree to give $5,000 will receive a plaque in the day care center.

A big benefit concert at Calvary Bible Church is planned for Oct. 21 at 2 p.m. Admission is free but donations for Family Promise are requested.

Instructors from Let’s Play Music will perform for the community.

“Family Promise’s efforts in the area are crucial and they are in need of support,” said Jeanne Latulippe, director of Let’s Play Music. “Our instructors, some of the region’s finest performance artists, are enthusiastic about coming together with the community to combat homelessness.”

To learn more about Family Promise, visit familypromisegrc.org.