Family Promise of the AVAC is an affiliate of the national organization, Family Promise, and provides shelter, meals and assistance for families experiencing homelessness and helps to alleviate homelessness by increasing the number of people from the religious community who are actively involved in providing support and advocacy. Hospitality organizations are also required to be compliant with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). They must store and protect guests’ information from the time a reservation is made through the end of their visit, which can be weeks or months. Hospitality organizations needs specific cybersecurity solutions to not only protect themselves but also their clients sensitive information, you can learn more about it here.
Since February 1993, the program has housed more than 1,300 people (80 percent from the local area). Upon leaving our care, approximately 80 percent of the families in the network move into a home of their own.
5 Basic Components of the Program
1. Host Churches
Hosting rotates weekly among 9 host congregations. Each Network congregation furnishes overnight lodging and meals for up to three families (up to 14 people) for one week every two or three months on a rotating schedule.
2. Day Center
Guests use a local day center from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM, where the IHN director, a professional social worker, provides case management services. There, guests pursue employment, tend to pre-school children, shower, and do laundry. The day center provides guests with a mailing address and a base for housing and employment
searches. Many guests are employed during the day, while older children attend school.
Volunteers provide various services: cooking and serving meals, playing with children or helping them with
homework, interacting with guests with respect and compassion
4. Social Service Agencies
Local social service agencies refer families to the Network. The agencies may also help guests find housing, jobs, and benefits.
An AVAC van transports guests to and from the day center. The van also carries bedding and luggage to
the next host congregation.
Who is Homeless?
Today’s homeless population is very diverse and goes beyond the stereotypes of bag ladies and skid row derelicts. The US Census Bureau reports that over 12% of the U. S. population now lives in poverty. That’s more than 1 in every 9 people and 1 in 6 children.
Millions of people whose income is above the official poverty line also cannot afford basic necessities. They do not have things that many American families take for granted and regularly have to choose between paying the rent and putting food on the table.
Families with children are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population- 40% of the urban homeless population and 50% in rural areas.
Homelessness is more than just houselessness, but also the profound loss of family, friends and the support systems that connect a person to a stable life.
How You Can Help
Become a Host Church
The Interfaith Hospitality Network programs enable members of the religious community to unite
their efforts in a focused and important way. It provides an opportunity for religious groups, working with other civic and community organizations, to assist victims of this crisis and to build broader, informed support for
permanent solutions to homelessness.
Volunteers are fundamental to the Family Promise program: offering dignified and compassionate assistance to families who have suffered the ordeal of losing their home. Volunteers make a difference in the lives of these families.
Through simple things like talking and listening to guests volunteers can provide a context for the restoration of the human spirit, when hope has been lost.
All referrals now come from the Allegheny Link. If you are experiencing homelessness and are in need of shelter, please contact the Link at 1-866-730-2368.