EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

April 3, 2013

Homeless network helps local families

Churches join forces to serve homeless families

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“They love coming here,” she said. “It’s an amazing program.”

But the day center is just that, a place for families to look for jobs, apartments and eat during the day. Children attend school; every effort is made to keep them in their home school district.

At night, the families sleep and share dinner at a rotation of churches for a week at a time. This week, they are staying at People’s United Methodist Church in Fremont.

Board president Melanie Nesheim said a survey of area school districts revealed there are more than 150 homeless families in Southern New Hampshire.

She said the organization hopes to assist at least 25 families a year, helping most of them find permanent housing. They can accommodate up to five families or 14 people at once.

Family Promise affiliates are located across the country.

Families stay in the shelters for an average of three months, according to program director Victoria McKinney-Vareschi.

She said the goal is for the families to help themselves. There is no time limit for how long they can stay.

“As long as the families are being productive, they can stay as long as they want,” she said.

Right now, the network has four families on a waiting list.

The group’s new van transports the families between churches and will be used to take them where they need to go, according to Nesheim.

Nearly $9,000 for the van was raised through a fundraiser spearheaded by Salem resident Henry Glickel and his wife, Robyn.

The organization relies on donations and fundraisers to fund its operating expenses. Upcoming fundraisers include a book sale at Windham High School on April 13 and a dance-a-thon at Barron School in Salem on May 11.

To donate, visit familypromisegrc.org. Checks should be written to “Family Promise of GRC and mailed to: Family Promise of Greater Rockingham County, 145 Hampstead Rd., Derry, 03038.

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