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Our Story

Tift Family Promise

Family Promise is a community-based response to family homelessness.

Tifton is called the Friendly City because people in Tift County care about and for one another. In 2010, a group of local citizens joined together to study homelessness in Tift County and find ways to bridge gaps. Using the Five Faces of Homelessness approach from the National Coalition on Homelessness, they began the Tift County Homeless Coalition and started their work.

While Tifton had a successful shelter for homeless men (Brother Charlie’s Rescue Center), a safe home for abused women and children (Ruth’s Cottage and the Patticake House) and a shelter for pregnant women (South Georgia Ministries, Inc. and Lifehouse Maternity Home), the group found that the 2 missing FACES in Tifton were women and children who were not victims of domestic violence or abuse and family units. From the Coalition’s work and collaboration with the Christian Women’s Job Corps, The House of Hope which serves homeless women and children opened in January 2017. The last FACE of Homelessness missing is the family unit – a shelter that cares for women, men and children of all ages in a family unit setting. For most family units that become homeless, there are few options for staying together – move in with other family members, stay in a motel or separate to be able to shelter in one of the other shelter settings. Too often families will shelter in cars, campers, or tents rather than separate from one another. Also fearing that their children will be removed from them if it’s learned they don’t have a permanent residence, many times families won’t seek help or share their homeless situation.

In the spring of 2015 after hearing that every year in the Tift County School system between 40 to 60 children are identified as homeless or displaced, the coalition members actively started working to find a solution to the FAMILY unit concern.

Concerned citizens, pastors, social workers, school personnel and community leaders came together to discuss how to fill this gap for families. Leeann Culbreath, a deacon at St. Anne’s Episcopal Church, shared with Coalition members, information about Family Promise from a friend in Effingham County. From that information other Georgia affiliates were identified and several of the group made a visit to Family Promise of Houston County in Warner Robins, Georgia. They came away impressed and inspired. Family Promise offered a creative, affordable approach to solving family homelessness by maintaining the family unit, providing a network of support, and using existing resources and volunteers in the community instead of developing a permanent shelter. The first community-wide Family Promise meeting was in April of 2015. Claas Ehlers, Executive Director of Family Promise at the national level, was invited to come to Tifton to share with interested community members, how Family Promise worked and what is needed to start a local affiliate.

Following the April 2015 meeting, the volunteers began the process of developing the local affiliate. In May of 2015 the agreement between Family Promise (national) and Family Promise of Tift Area was initiated. Articles of Incorporation and By-Laws were drafted and volunteer Board members and committees were identified. The organization received 501c3 non-profit status and corporate status from the Secretary of State’s office on 7/13/2015. Paula G. Lewis served as our first president of the organization. Since late 2015, efforts have been underway to recruit the 13 host congregations, raise the funds necessary for a day center and hire an executive director/social worker, obtain a 15 passenger van and open our doors for service.

Each year in Tift County, between 50 and 60 school aged children are identified as homeless. Statistics support that for every school aged child identified as homeless, there are 1 to 2 younger children under that age of 5 experiencing homelessness. So 50 – 60 school children annually in Tift Count schools means 100 – 120 children right in our own back yard, don’t have a warm bed and safe sleeping environment. Won’t you join us in , helping struggling families achieve sustainable independence and stability? Get involved and become part of our story of hope and transformation.

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