Sunnyside Helps Family Find Home of Their Own
The apartment was nice, but empty — no beds, no furniture, no food, none of the trappings that make a home. But the boys didn’t want to leave, so air mattresses were found, along with other necessities, and the family stayed in the apartment their first night. Rachel and her three sons (Issac, age 10; Angelo, age 7; and Jesse, age 4) had been living in homeless shelters for almost three years — one shelter during the day, another at night. They were never alone. There was occasional verbal abuse and sometimes threats of physical harm. This was no place to raise a family.
Unbeknownst to Rachel, the road home started with the Sunnyside Church in southeast Portland. Sunnyside women’s ministries group was participating in Healthy Sisters, a program to transport homeless women to medical appointments.Through this, the opportunity arose to participate with the Village Support Network of Portland and help a homeless family transition to permanent housing.
Women’s ministries co-chairs Kathy Pruitt and Dianne Glovatsky, encouraged and supported by associate pastor Shirley Allen, received approval from the church board in November 2013 for the expanded project. The commitment was for a six-person support team, six months to work with the family, training sessions, and $500 to be raised by the church to fund the project. The SAFE (Sunnyside Adventist Family Enrichment) team was formed and started to work.
The team’s goals were to help with finding appropriate housing, setting up the new household, get the family settled into the community, and set family budget and educational goals. Most important was a unique opportunity share God's love in a meaningful way.
A total of 14 congregations in the Portland area, representing a variety of denominations, participated in projects like this in 2014. The Village Support Network provided four training sessions. During training, the SAFE team visited a homeless shelter and talked with several families. After much prayer and discussion, the SAFE team visited the shelter again and chose Rachel, and she in turn chose them.
As of September 2014, the project was a great success. Rachel is enrolled in a local community college making progress toward her career goals, the school-age boys are attending school, and all are happy in their new home. Recently Rachel thanked the Sunnyside congregation during a church service. “I couldn’t have done this without your help,” she said.
The SAFE team hopes to help another family next year.