How can moving from church to church weekly possibly be better than a room in a shelter?
My name is Megan. My family and I stayed in the Faith Family Hospitality program for over 3 months. My answer is simple, as a parent, who’s homeless, I would much rather be in the FFH program than at a traditional shelter setting.
At a traditional shelter, we were in the mix with over 100 different homeless people. With that comes the multiple problems that commonly plague the homeless population (i.e., alcoholism, substance abuse, gang affiliation, violence, individuals newly released from jail/prison, those that admit to choosing the lifestyle of homelessness). We were safe in our own room, but the shelter environment could be extremely toxic for children.
While in the FFH program, due to church members volunteering their time to be there for our families each day, those negative influences are simply not evident at all. This has tremendously increased my feeling of safety as a parent, and it is very nice to not have to keep my children “locked away” in our room every moment we are at the shelter in order to protect them from that environment.
When we come into the churches each and every evening, the volunteers that greet us are truly happy to see us and eager to talk to us about our day…. Both meals provided at the churches (dinner and breakfast) are very “homey” feeling. It is like eating a holiday meal with truly homemade food and many people chatting and fellowshipping like old friends that haven’t seen each other in a long time. The volunteers have taken great care to work around everyone’s allergies and dietary preferences.
In our stay at the traditional shelter, mealtime to me very much resembled the classic old-time jailhouse mess halls from the movies. It was extremely noisy, busy and we witnessed more than one physical fight and countless verbal yelling matches during mealtimes.
Every evening we are able to get settled in our room for quiet reading and family time after dinner. In the FFH program I am able to get both boys to bed and asleep at a decent hour and the churches stay quiet and conducive to a restful night. The fact that the people who are overseeing the program went beyond “good enough” and strived to find comfortable beds for us means a lot.
To sum up, when asked how moving churches weekly could possibly be better than a stationary room for more than a week, given the difference in the FFH program and the traditional shelter setting, I’d be goofy to not prefer moving weekly. It’s not in the location, it’s in the environment.
Thank you for recognizing the need, being there to fill it, and providing a quality, safe place to stay while regaining our stability.