Bozeman Area Churches Host Homeless

September 01, 2007 | Kim Snider

Several churches in the Bozeman area have, for the second year, opened their doors and hearts to help provide comfortable places for homeless families to stay. The Mt. Ellis, Bozeman and Belgrade churches, along with Mt. Ellis Academy, are helping the organization Family Promise of Gallatin Valley. Family Promise is a national interfaith organization committed to helping communities provide safe shelter, meals, and support services for homeless families.

During the month of June, the boys' dorm at Mt. Ellis Academy was opened to five families, a total of 15 individuals, including eight children, each of them homeless.

Each evening, a host family from one of the participating churches greets the families as they return from work or their day's activities. A full meal is provided along with evening activities, often focusing on playing with kids or educational/supportive classes. Interaction with the guests is filled with respect and compassion as if they were in their own home. An overnight host family then stays through the evening and night, providing overnight security and ensuring a sense of community.

One single father of four sat back on his first night in the program and said, "I really don't want to be here." The evening host family representative, Kim Snider, listened to his frustrations and assured him that it is the role of Family Promise to help with the immediate needs, with a goal that they get back on their feet as soon as possible. He fully understood and with tears in his eyes expressed his thankfulness.

Gloria Edwards, Gallatin Valley director of Family Promise, notes that most families keep in contact with Family Promise even after they have moved on and into a home. The average stay, nationwide for Family Promise is 90 days, and 85 percent of the families graduate from the program with full-time employment and permanent housing.