Homeless, on the road - no room, sound familiar?
Homeless, at Christmas. The thought is too dark for most of us to even contemplate.
Every Christmas as I was growing up, my dad, step-mom, brother and I would leave home the afternoon of Christmas Eve to travel to my grandparents’ house. These were my dad’s parents, and we would see my mom’s family and more than likely my step-mom’s family sometime during a hectic holiday. We were on the road, sometimes, in the dark despair of rural North or South Carolina, in a black night so thick it was cut by nothing by headlights. Barely even any Christmas lights on the houses - then, we would burst through towns and there would be a little something to look at. I always remember the horse-drawn hearse in front of the funeral home in Camden. We knew the house we had left. We knew there would be a house awaiting us.
We were lucky.
A lot of people in the United States today do not have that house. For some it is a choice, mental illness clouds their minds so much that they believe they don’t need a house. Others, have no money for a house - shelters take in some of them.
Churches take in many more. In Laurens County, you can support that work. Family Promise of Laurens County has sent us an appeal letter.
“At Christmas,” it says, in part, “many of us will get together with family and friends. Gifts will be exchanged and many warm memories made sitting around a Christmas tree or dining room table. But for some families in our community, this is not the case. ... Family Promise of Laurens County wants to provide a way for these families to change that story. By providing a warm meal, a safe place to rest their heads, financial literacy, and support to secure permanent housing, Family Promise provides HOPE. Congregations, families, agencies, and individuals work together to help author that story.”
The premise of Family Promise is this, churches take turns opening parts of their facilities to families that are homeless. No one church carries the whole burden; while this means the homeless families “move around,” that’s not necessarily a bad thing. This way, the people being helped see a lot of people in the community. They have a lot of shoulders on which to lean.
Appeals for financial help come at us from all directions in this time of year. All I am asking is your prayerful consideration. A year-end gift can assist this ministry in preparing itself for what promises to be an active 2018. Churches already are signing on, people are volunteering, a board of people you probably know is in place. They have made it so that your gift is tax-deductible. Don’t know enough about Family Promise? They’re on the internet; Laurens County is following a template, not “reinventing the wheel” in helping homeless families.
Do not commit to what you cannot afford. Just consider, what price is too high to keep people who truly love each other, together: “Your financial support will allow for these stories to be written. It will support our effort to develop a Family Promise affiliate in Laurens County, to provide a place for hard working families to stay together while working to get back on their feet.”
We can make “this promise” a reality by sending a gift to: Family Promise, P.O. Box 1608, Laurens, SC 29360. Their letter ends, “Thank you and God bless you and your family this Christmas and in the New Year.”
(The Family Promise of Laurens County board is: Steve Hobbs, chairperson; Kimberly Kitchens, vice chairperson; Maxie Burns, treasurer; Rebecca Honeycutt, secretary; Douglas Shenton and Eric McGucken, fund development team co-chairs. Vic MacDonald is Editor of The Clinton Chronicle; his monthly column appears in The Clinton Chronicle and the Blogs section of MyClintonNews.com He can be reached at 833-1900 or firstname.lastname@example.org)