---- — DERRY — Family Promise of Greater Rockingham County celebrated the grand opening of its Interfaith Hospitality Network recently at the day center at Calvary Bible Church in Derry.
Board president Melanie Nesheim spoke to a gathering of more than 40 people, as did the Rev. David Yasenka of Triumphant Cross Lutheran Church in Salem and the Rev. John Talley of Calvary Bible Church.
Representatives of the state’s congressional delegation attended. Network director Victoria McKinney-Vareschi cut the ribbon.
The ceremony was the culmination of three years effort by many people. Yasenka was instrumental in bringing national Family Promise to the area. Talley and the congregation of Calvary Bible Church have been highly supportive by hosting the day center in its facility, and by installing extra exit doors to comply with fire code so families can be hosted overnight when it is Calvary’s turn in the rotation.
Guests families are hosted overnight at participating churches for one week at a time on a rotating basis, moving to the next host church each Sunday.
Families spend daytime at the day center working with the director on the issues that led to homelessness; using the center’s computers and phone to seek jobs, housing,and services; and improving skills such as budgeting and parenting.
Volunteers at the churches provide meals, homework help and companionship. Their support encourages families to make the needed changes to become independent.
The program currently hosts three families. The program can take three to five families at a time, up to 14 individuals. The average length of stay nationwide is about three months, but as long as a family is making progress toward independence, it is welcome to stay. There are 158 known homeless families in the 16 towns Family Promise serves.
Family Promise expects to serve about 25 families per year. The goal is to return homeless children and their families to permanent housing, one family at a time.
In 2013, about 12 percent of the Interfaith Hospitality Network’s annual budget will come from the towns of Windham, Hampstead, Salem and Sandown. The rest comes from individuals donors. To assist homeless children by making a tax-deductible contribution, donate securely online at familypromisegrc.org or by check to Family Promise of Greater Rockingham County Inc., 145 Hampstead Road, Derry, 03038.