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Family Promise is a nationally known organization with tremendous experience and many resources to help local groups plan, develop, and launch a Family Promise affiliate to assist families with children who are experiencing homelessness in their communities.


The national organization provides tremendous support from the initial inquiry about launching a Family Promise affiliate, applying for non-profit status, building a Board of Directors, hiring staff, engaing the community, utilizing volunteer support and finally  accepting our first family. The support does not stop there... nor do the resources. From website templates and affiliate logos, to board job descriptions, program plans and ongoing conversations with the board of directors, staff and volunteers, the Family Promise National staff are always ready and available to assist all affiliates, no matter what stage of development or how long they have been providing services.

As can be seen in the graphic below, family homelessness is a crisis in the Northern Shenandoah Valley. The current lack of affordable housing crisis in the region has only compounded an already desperate situation. Chosing to merge the resources of Market Street United Methodist Church, Winchester Together, and embracing the impact and utilizing the resources of the Family Promise Network is proving to be the best way to meet this critical need now and in the many years to come.

Homeless Families with children graphic.jpg


The Beginning

Karen Olson was rushing to a business meeting when she passed a homeless woman on the street. On impulse, Karen bought her a sandwich. The woman, Millie, accepted the sandwich but asked for something more — a chance to be heard. Karen stayed with Millie and listened. What she heard made her understand that homelessness brought profound feelings of diminished self-worth and disconnection from society. Soon after, Karen and her two sons began delivering lunches to homeless people on the streets of New York.

1986: The First Network

When Karen learned that homelessness was affecting families right in her community in New Jersey, she knew she had to do something. But this was much more than giving sandwiches. She brought together people in need and people who wanted to help. Existing community resources could provide shelter, meals, and housing. Volunteers could use their skills, knowledge, and compassion to help their homeless neighbors find employment, reconnect with society, and restore their dignity. Karen approached the religious community. Congregations offered hospitality space within their buildings. The YMCA provided showers and a Family Day Center. A car dealer discounted a van. The first interfaith hospitality network opened on October 27, 1986.

1988: The Network Goes National

As word spread, more New Jersey congregations formed a second network. Other congregations were inspired to develop similar programs. In 1988, we formed the National Interfaith Hospitality Network to bring the program nationwide. In addition to shelter, meals, housing, and job-seeking support, our Affiliates began developing programs for transitional housing, childcare, and homelessness prevention. Nationally, we added programs like Just Neighbors and Family Mentoring.

2003: The Name Change to Family Promise

We changed our name, from the National Interfaith Hospitality Network to Family Promise, to reflect our broad range of programs and our vision of ending family homelessness. The name refers to the promise, in the sense of commitment, that communities make to families in need. But it also refers to the promise, the potential, inherent in every family.



in goods & services

returned for every $1 raised


of families sheltered

find housing


targeted initiatives created at the

local level


volunteers engaged nation-wide

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