Directors Corner

Welcome 

Mary Thomson LeMense New Director

Update on the West View Sanctuary

posted Feb 20, 2014, 6:51 PM by Courtney Bemus


Since purchasing the West View Sanctuary in December, we have been working with architects, engineers, KUB and the City of Knoxville to gain the necessary approvals to renovate and move in. We have a fantastic team of professionals guiding us through the maze of requirements and considerations.  Tim Dunaway, our Board Member, has taken the lead. We are deeply indebted to architect, Faris Eid of Design Innovations Architects and to engineer John Kenny of Facility Systems Consultants for donation of their expert work and council. 

    As with most major decisions in the life of a family, things do not always happen as quickly as we wish and often the path comes with a few bumps and turns in the road.  The same has been true with the planned move to our new day center.  But most certainly – when things do not move on “our time” and we allow plans to unfold as intended – the result is even better. I must admit some frustration with things like building codes, some of which seem downright nonsensical, I do see plans coming together to serve the needs of our families, in safe surroundings and with more efficient use of our resources and your donations.   

    Because of your continued faith and support, last week a record was set at Family Promise: three families were moved into new homes in four days!  Let us learn from the example of our families. For each of them the journey back to sustainable housing was not nearly as fast as they had hoped. Each faced unexpected obstacles along the way.  Each exhibited unwavering grace under extreme circumstances. Certainly we, the Family Promise of Knoxville family, can do the same.  Let us be steadfast, resilient and resolute as we allow this opportunity of a new life for Family Promise to unfold before us.  When it is the right time we will move in and continue our journey together to end family homelessness one family at a time.

Sincerely,

Mary Thomson LeMense

Happy New Year

posted Dec 31, 2013, 11:13 AM by Courtney Bemus

Wishing you health and happiness this Holiday Season and
prosperity in the New Year.
Family Promise of Knoxville
Celebrating the past and embracing the future
Family Promise of Knoxville is moving.

You might already know that Family Promise of Knoxville provides sanctuary to families with children who have lost their homes. Local congregations host families in classrooms that are turned into bedrooms. We currently operate out of a small house that offers very little privacy for families or staff as they work with guests to eliminate barriers and achieve their goal of permanent housing. 
In 2013, Family Promise of Knoxville has partnered with 38 congregations to provide temporary shelter and meals to 22 families: including 36 children, of which 18 are under the age of 5 years. 
What you may not know is that there are more families in our community in need of our services than we are currently able to help. In order to help meet some of that need, Family Promise of Knoxville is ready to expand. The West View Sanctuary, purchased on December 12th, will soon become the new home base for programming. Our new space is just one step on our path to serving more families; helping make their future brighter.
We are so grateful for the support of the many who have made it possible for Family Promise to provide relief and respite to 165 families over the last eight years. We welcome new and continued partnerships as we step into the future. 

Sincerely,

Mary Thomson LeMense


A New Year, A New Home

posted Dec 13, 2013, 7:06 AM by Courtney Bemus   [ updated Dec 13, 2013, 10:45 AM ]

Dear Friends of Family Promise,

The New Year for Family Promise holds much promise. We have the perfect new home for our Day Center –formerly the West View United Methodist Church on Middlebrook Pike. In early 2014 we will move into this beautiful building that will become a sanctuary for our families and children, staff and volunteers as we continue our mission - - to help homeless and low-income families achieve sustainable independence…ending homelessness one family at a time. 


Family Promise is a shelter program for homeless children and their families serving the Knoxville area since 2005.  At Family Promise we stretch every dollar to provide for our families.  We partner with 38 area congregations to house and feed our families. Classrooms are turned into bedrooms at our host churches and other congregations and groups of volunteers provide meals, serve as overnight hosts and greet each guest with warmth and a smile. Because of our unique partnerships, the cost of our program averages only $43 a day; far less than traditional shelters that can average over $200 a day. Family Promise is certainly a good investment! 

More space does so much more than give us some extra elbow room: it gives us the ability to expand to meet the needs of twice as many families.  The plight of homelessness has not let up. The numbers are staggering – on any given night it is estimated that 239,403 family members are homeless. In Tennessee 36.1% of homeless families are unsheltered – have no safe place to stay. And, of that number, well over one-half are children. [2012 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress.] Since 2005, Family Promise of Knoxville has served over 160 homeless families with 81% of them obtaining sustained housing.  Yet so many more are in need of our help.  Our waiting list of families with children numbers greater than 20 and the calls come in every day.

The numbers do not really tell the story.  Each family that finds shelter with Family Promise has a story to tell. Here is just one: Cody and Samantha have three children. Samantha became ill and was unable to work and Cody’s work cut his hours. They fought hard to keep their house but with less than half the needed income, the bills just got further and further behind. One day they were homeless.  For Cody and Sam the choices for shelter were few. Only Family Promise could provide them safe shelter as a family, plus individualized case management and training to get them back on their feet. It took Cody and Sam only three weeks to find employment and an apartment.  This precious family now has a home and an opportunity for a good life. That is what your donations to Family Promise do!

 Family Promise provides more than shelter. Our licensed clinical staff provides comprehensive case management and life skills training to our guests. Through the “Going Home Staying Home” program we do so much more than just find our families a home.  We follow our families for up to two years after they leave our shelter to ensure sustainable stable housing.  With these programs our families are at far less risk of the “revolving door” of programs and services.

Comments from past guests: 

“Words cannot describe how thankful I am; the love and compassion shown to us will always be remembered. Thank you and God bless.” 

“Thank you Family Promise for giving us an environment where we could just breathe, a place that is full of support and patience.” 

“I’ll never forget the smile on my daughter’s face when she said ’Mom – let’s go home!’”

 As a single Dad, I had “peace of mind knowing I could keep my daughter with me.”

With your help, our intention is to double our ability to assist homeless families by 2015. We will reach out to double the number of host congregations, asking them to partner with us to help the” least of these”. We will reach out to double the supporting congregations and groups to provide meals.  We will double our call to dedicated volunteers who really do care about their fellow man.  We will double our efforts to reach and create new supporters of Family Promise.

Your generosity to Family Promise is greatly appreciated.  When it comes to giving, we know that you have many worthy causes from which to choose. We would be honored for you to include us in your giving this holiday season.  Please take a moment to complete the gift information below with your donation. Thank you for giving so many homeless children and families an opportunity for a better life together. Only with your support can we further our vision of a community in which every family has a home, a livelihood, and the chance to build a better future together.  Our plan is ambitious – with your help we will succeed.


With deepest appreciation,

Mary Thomson LeMense ~ Executive Director


P.S. We are proud to be a United Way Partner.

 

A New Day!

posted Oct 17, 2013, 1:49 AM by Courtney Bemus   [ updated Oct 18, 2013, 12:21 AM ]

    It is a new day at Family Promise and the word is change. First, I am honored to have been chosen as the new Executive Director. I have been a volunteer for years and when Joyce Shoudy announced her retirement, I knew I wanted to take on this challenge. I am trained as a lawyer but have for years rather than practice law have been "practicing parenting" and volunteering my time and talents in the community. My focus has been home and family and so it will remain - just for others!

    Change is also in the air with our day center and office home. After many ups and downs we are ever so close to purchasing a new space -a sanctuary for our guests.Your generous donations to our building fund and the extraordinary support from our interfaith partners has made this dream a near reality. Stay tuned for more news.

        Change is coming! With a new day center we will move to double our ability to help children and their families. Right now Harley House is filled to the brim with children, five boys! Their parents want nothing more than to provide for their families - just as we all do. They are now getting help. Also at the Harley House is a "wait list" with the names of 20 families needing a place to stay. Our new space will allow us to help so many more.

    Change ... None of this is possible without you! Volunteers are the cornerstone of Family Promise. Soon we will be reaching out to additional members of the interfaith community to join our network.

    Change... Often change goes hand in hand with fear and uncertainty.  But as we move forward with all this change we will do so walking together, side by side. As I do, I hope you see this change as an exciting opportunity for us to continue the promise to end homelessness one family at a time!

 

Mary Thomson LeMense

 

Farewell

posted Jun 23, 2013, 12:04 AM by Courtney Bemus


This is a hard one for me to write.  We have all experienced different chapters in our lives; chapters that

begin and eventually come to end.  Well, that is how my experience at Family Promise can be described.

I started working here in August 2006, almost 7 years ago.  I came as the Interim Executive Director, helping run the program while the board searched for a permanent Executive Director.  I had agreed to stay through November of that year, but extended my time as the search continued.  Nicole Craig was hired and began working here on January 1, 2007.  I stayed for a while longer to help train her and then was offered the part time position of Director of Family Support services.  By that time I had absolutely fallen in love with this program and everything it represents.  So I continued here part time until September of 2008 when Nicole decided to leave to return to her former position at the Disability Resource Center.

I expressed my desire to be hired in her place and began as the full time Executive Director in October of 2008.  Since that time this agency has seen many changes.  In 2009 we hired Anne Umbach as our full time Director of Family Support Services.  This hire involved a step out in faith that we would be able to continue raising the money to sustain her in a full time position which we have.

The Network has grown and continues to grow.  We joined the Knoxville Chamber and also now have a Board member who has joined the West Knoxville/Farragut Chamber of Commerce.  More and more people are aware of our existence as well as the existence of homeless children and their families in Knox County.  We continued to hold our annual signature event – the Pasta Cook-Off with last years’ event bringing in more than $53,000!

I say all this to say my chapter of being the Executive Director at Family Promise of Knoxville is coming to an end.  On October 16th I will turn 65 years old – a day I have looked forward to for a very long time.  I have given the Board my formal letter of resignation effective that day.  I tell you this while expressing much appreciation for all the support you have given me and this agency since Day One.  You have all been so supportive and I love and will miss each and every one of you.  I pray that you will give the new Executive Director as much support as you have given me.  I know you will!

My hope is that I can stay involved as a volunteer, not just at my church, but with the Network itself.  I realize there is till 5 months until the date of October 16th, but I gave my notice this early in order to give the board ample time to find the right person and bring them in.  I have offered to help train the new person and introduce them to everyone possible – donors, volunteers, pastors, priests, etc.

Until then, I will continue to do the job I love and enjoy being here with the families and working with each of you while looking forward to the Pasta Cook-Off.  With your help we can make this one even bigger and more successful than last year!!  If you have any questions please feel free to contact Siobhan Warren, Board Chair – siobhanwarren@gmail.com or Anthony Burns, Chair of the Recruitment Committee – Anthony@knoxvillefumc.org.

With great memories,

Joyce

Spring

posted May 2, 2013, 3:09 PM by Courtney Bemus

  

 As I sit in my office at the Harley House on this beautiful Spring day I am thinking about the families and especially the children who have passed through these doors over the past almost 8 years.   One of the children currently in the program is a sweet little strawberry blonde 2 year old with Shirley temple curls who just wins my heart daily!  All of the children we’ve seen come through the program with their parents are so sweet.  They are the innocent victims of unfortunate decisions and circumstances that have put their family in a homeless situation. 

    As I think about these children, I can’t help but think about the children whose family needs shelter.  The calls for family shelter continue to increase.   We remain committed to our goal, established in 2005, to grow to include a second rotation of congregations and organizations to allow us to work with more families.

    As many of you know we began a building campaign last fall in an attempt to purchase a building we had identified and made an offer to buy.  Unfortunately we were not able to raise enough of the funds needed to close on the property so we withdrew our offer.  The funds we had raised are safely invested in a CD restricted to be used solely for the purpose of obtaining a building.  The Board of Directors is continuing to pursue a new day center to improve our daily operations and allow the programs to expand.  We are continuing to raise funds for the building campaign.

    Currently we have a full house of four families, all working hard to meet their goals, move into housing and graduate the program.  We are anticipating the end of the school year and the warm summer months ahead.  We recently had a great group from Fuse church spend an afternoon doing yard work and sprucing up the house.   These groups always leave me rejuvenated and thankful for a wonderful community of volunteers and supporters.

    I would encourage all of you to continue to spread a little love today and every day.   Did you know that recently it was Random Acts of Kindness Week?  One day’s suggested act was – Donate time or money to a local charity!   Family Promise of Knoxville would love to be the recipient of your Random Act of Kindness! 

Wishing you a wonderful Spring,

Joyce

Save The Date

posted Feb 15, 2013, 1:34 AM by Courtney Bemus   [ updated Feb 15, 2013, 1:38 AM ]

FPK Logo
February 2013
From the Director's Corner


Happy Valentine's Day!!

As I sit in my office at the Harley House on this Valentine's Day, 2013 I am thinking about the families and especially the children who have passed through these doors over the past 7 ½ years.  All of the children we've seen come through the program with their parents are so sweet.  They are the innocent victims of unfortunate decisions and circumstances that have put their family in a homeless situation.  The amazing thing about this program is that it helps children to regain their child-like innocence and hope. One of our little boys in the program shared his joy this week by sharing with Anne (our social worker) a lollipop and a little box of candy!   

 

As I think about these children, I can't help but think about and worry over the children and families in need shelter.  The calls from families seeking help with shelter continue to increase.   We remain committed to our goal, established in 2005, to grow our network to include a second rotation of congregations and organizations to allow us to work with more families.

 

As many of you know we began a building campaign last fall in an attempt to purchase a building as the first step towards the expanded programming.  The funds we have raised are in a designated account restricted to be used solely for the purpose of obtaining a building.  Although we were unable to purchase that first building, we are not giving up on our plan and dream to grow.  The Board of Directors is continuing to pursue a new day center to improve our daily operations and allow the program to expand and serve more families.  We are continuing to raise funds for the building campaign and welcome your contributions.

 

Currently we have a full house; four families, all working hard to meet their goals, find employment, move into housing and graduate the program.  The compassionate support and love that these families (and so many more families, lots that we haven't even met yet)is an awesome way to express the meaning of Valentine's Day. And the beauty of it all is that this love and support continues beyond this one day and week.  I would encourage all of you to continue to spread a little love today and every day.  

 

Did you know that this week is Random Acts of Kindness Week?  Tomorrow's suggested act is - Donate time or money to a local charity!   Family Promise of Knoxville would love to be the recipient of your Random Act of Kindness!  Your financial support can make a huge difference in the lives of the sweet children, and their parents, that come to Family Promise for help. 

 

Happy Valentine's Day,

Joyce Shoudy

Executive  Director

 

Save the Date for a 
Very Important Event!!

Pasta Cook Off 2013
August 17, 2013
Sacred Heart Cathedral School
 
Watch for more information on our website:   familypromiseknoxville.org
 
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P. O. Box 10184, Knoxville, TN   37939-0184 · 865.584.2822


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