Rides for Hope Helps Union County Family Move Forward

Rides for Hope.
Farmers' Derrick Canada presents Shelly Martin with the keys to her car.

The holiday season started a little early for Shelly Martin this year. As part of their Rides for Hope program, Farmers Insurance, partnering with Family Promise-Union County, presented Shelly and her family with a gently used and fully refurbished 2004 Nissan Altima.

As a graduate of Family Promise-Union County’s shelter program for homeless families, Shelly has found housing but she could not afford to replace her old car once it died. This became especially problematic recently when her company changed the location of her job, adding hours to her commute each day on public transportation.

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"Pursue the Promise" Event Raises $22,000

FPUC Food Drive.
Pursue the Promise participants.

On Sunday, September 27th, 40 participants from the Summit High School Family Promise Club embarked on an innovative “scavenger hunt” to raise awareness for homelessness. This event displayed an extraordinary partnership of teen club members, formerly homeless young adults from the Family Promise Union County program, and Union County congregations and volunteers.

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Summit Police Collect Food for Family Promise

FPUC Food Drive.
Family Promise-Union County and Summit Police celebrate food drive results.

This summer, the Summit Police Department donated more than 350 pounds of food and household items to the Family Promise-Union County Program. August 6 marked the culmination of their first annual “CommUNITY Cares Food and Household Goods Drive,” with Chief Robert Weck and other department representatives delivering the bounty to the Union County Day Center at First Baptist Church in Elizabeth.

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Walmart Supports Union County Program

Walmart donation.
Karen Olson and Walmart's Gene Lydecker

The Walmart Foundation has awarded Family Promise, the Summit-based national nonprofit helping homeless families, a grant of $25,000 for their Union County, New Jersey program. Family Promise-Union County, a program of the Family Promise national office, works locally with homeless and at-risk families to help them move through homelessness to affordable housing and financial independence.

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FPUC Welcomes New Director, Geleen Donovan

Geleen Donovan.
Geleen Donovan

Geleen Donovan, the new Executive Director of Family Promise-Union County, served previously as Director of Family Promise of Hunterdon County (NJ) from 2004 to 2012, but she hasn’t always been a social worker.

She ran a restaurant. Taught piano. Managed hotel finances. Ran a medical transcription business. But “Social work was always in my heart. I volunteered many, many places, and I’ve always been an activist,” says Donovan.

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FPUC Visits Sesame Place

Mom checks daughter's life vest.
Good to Go!

On August 15, 2013, families at Family Promise of Union County were treated to a day at Sesame Place in Langhorne, PA, thanks to Muhammad Wilkerson from the NY Jets. Guests of Family Promise-Union County and staff were treated to a bus ride ,tickets to the theme park and loads of fun. In the midst of chaos of losing their residences, the families not only had the opportunity to receive support from Family Promise but also enjoy Elmo and Big Bird dancing, water rides, and the Neighborhood Street Parade. Rise Grady, a caseworker at Family Promise said, "When times seem unbearable, it is amazing people like Muhammad Wilkerson and TEAM96 comes along to brighten up everyone's day."

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A Letter from Family Promise President Karen Olson

karen olson2
Karen Olson.

We are delighted to be serving homeless and low-income families in Union County again! Family Promise Union County opened its doors on June 2 with 14 host congregations and 19 additional support congregations. Our day center, located at First Baptist Church in Elizabeth, serves as a central location from which children can attend school and parents can go to work or look for employment. At the day center, the Family Promise Director and Case Manager work with guest family members to build the skills needed to achieve and maintain sustainable independence. The Union County day center, newly renovated, is conveniently located near area social services. It has a family room and computer room where families can use the computer to search for housing and jobs and has two offices for staff.

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Family Promise-Union County Reopens Doors

image of church
First Baptist Church in Elizabeth is home of Union County’.

After a two-year hiatus Family Promise of Union County, New Jersey (FPUC) re-launched on June 2, 2013, hosting three homeless families at Faith Lutheran Church in New Providence. The week marked the renewal of a program with a long history of providing the county’s only beds for working families.

Union County was home to the original Family Promise network, which opened in 1986. In June 2011, however, Homefirst of Plainfield, N.J., the agency then running the program, discontinued shelter operations to focus on developing affordable housing.

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