“At any other shelter I know of, throughout the state, the son would have been separated from his mom and sisters,” she said. “That’s just a horrifying thought for us.”
Family Promise host congregations house up to four families or 14 people for one week, four times per year. Volunteers provide meals and support, such as helping children with their homework.
Volunteers come from the host congregations, as well as close to 30 “support congregations” from churches and synagogues across the region.
Family Promise of the North Shore currently has nine host congregations, but Sinagra said she hopes the program can grow to have 13 or more hosts. Program guests have also stayed at the Ipswich Inn, and Sinagra said she’s having discussions with Endicott College in Beverly to possibly house guests on their campus.
In addition to more host sites, the program is looking for more volunteers, Sinagra said.
“While we are very proud of the fact that we’ve launched, we’re up and running and it’s working, we need more resources, more people involved to lighten the load for those who are already involved,” she said.
Criminal background checks are done on all Family Promise guests, as well as program volunteers. Guests are also screened for substance-abuse problems, Sinagra said.
The organization has a day center at 330 Rantoul St. in Beverly, where guests meet with a social worker, do laundry, shower and are able to store a few items. Children are picked up at the day center and bused to the school district they last attended before the family became homeless.
The program’s families became homeless for a variety of reasons, from an unexpected job loss to unforeseen medical problems. Many of the program’s participants work but are still unable to find affordable housing.