HELENA — Family Promise is a local, non-profit, organization that is going above and beyond to help women and children in need by teaming-up with Carroll College this summer for families facing homelessness.
Though the dorms at Carroll College this summer are quiet in June, they’re not empty.
Kimberly Patterson is staying at Borromeo Hall thanks to a partnership between Carroll and Family Promise.
“I am a single mom. I’ve been a single mom for the last 12 years and I have two daughters, 15 and 12,” said Patterson. Patterson spoke openly about her stay at Carroll and how it’s greatly impacted her and her family’s life ever since.
Patterson continued, “It has absolutely been fantastic. First off, it’s a fairly spacious room, there’s bunk beds for the girls, and there’s another smaller room where I have kind of a little bit of privacy.”
Patterson moved to Helena from Florida in pursuit of a new life but due to unexpected health issues, was forced to leave work and struggled financially, leaving her and her daughters searching for a place to call their own.
“When it’s just you, it’s a lot easier,” Patterson continued, “but when it’s you got kids, it’s very scary and I was scared for my girls.”
Since 2011, Family Promise has successfully helped 90 families become sustainable and independent.
The Executive Director of Family Promise, Glenna Wortman-Obie said, “Whenever there are children involved, that part of our mission. To make sure that children are, that, their needs are met.”
Family Promise can help a maximum of four families at a time, but with over 600 volunteers through varies churches and other resources, they do their best to aid everyone they can.
Mary Larsen works with First Christian Church, one of the churches that works closely with Family Promise, and tells MTN each church strives to provide a private space for families.
“It depends on the church’s layouts, sometimes it is with partitions, sometimes it’s with individual rooms, we did even one year have a church that did not have any individual rooms, so we set up pop-up tents for the family,” said Larsen.
For volunteers like Mary, the perception of homelessness is not always as it seems and quite often is due to unforeseen circumstances.
Larsen continued stating, “I do think that, I think the stigma of homelessness and the stereotype we have of homelessness is what causes some of our inability to effect change.”
Carroll College and Family Promise are doing their best in taking the first steps in addressing the stereotype of homelessness in our community.
The Dean of Mission Integration and Effectiveness at Carroll College, Chris Fuller, said in addition to providing lodging, they also have student volunteers to help the residents with tasks like cooking and cleaning.
“It gives the families a little stability, it gives Family Promise a bit of a break from having to do that week-to-week planning, from each lodging site, and it also gives the churches a bit of a break during the year, in terms of their rotation being a lodging site,” said Fuller.
For Patterson, the experience at Carroll provided more than a roof over her head and food on the table.
“They sit with us, we talk. We’ve actually become very good friends. And my kids are just looking up to them as well,” said Patterson.
Patterson is currently on a waiting list to rent her own apartment and intends to move her and her daughters, into their own home, in just a few weeks.
“Whenever a family leaves, it’s bittersweet, but they will always remain about of our family here at Family Promise,” said Wortman-Obie.