Good Cause of the Month: Seacoast Family Promise
This nonprofit is changing the lives of families with children experiencing homelessness across the Seacoast.
Good Cause of the Month: Seacoast Family Promise
Throughout 2017, we’ve been alerting you to events and causes worthy of your time and philanthropic treasure in our Good Cause of the Month series. Keep an eye out for a Good Cause every month here at NHMagazine.com, from charitable events to volunteer opportunities to nonprofits you should get to know – and, by the end of the year, your do-gooder cred will be off the charts.
For this month’s Good Cause, we’d like to introduce you to Seacoast Family Promise. This Exeter based nonprofit serves families in need from a range of backgrounds, and helps them find stable housing and return to self-sufficiency. They provide intensive case management, financial education, access to support services, employment and housing assistance, education evaluation, a family-oriented shelter and most importantly, a community of support. The organization has been in operation since 2003, and doesn’t plan on slowing down as they “guide families home.” Read on to learn about all of their work and history and to find out how you can get involved.
What They Do
Seacoast Family Promise is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit and an affiliate of the national organization, Family Promise. At its most simple, Seacoast Family Promise’s mission is to empower families with children experiencing homelessness to achieve sustainable independence through a community based response. As Seacoast Family Promise Executive Director Pati Frew-Waters explains, the organization is built on the premise that people will help people, and neighbors will help neighbors when they are called upon to do so. They envision a community in which “every family has a home, a livelihood and the foundation on which to build a better future together.”
While the organization does not house families on their own property, they do place them within faith-based communities where they are provided housing and food for a week at a time until they are able to return to a place they call home. During the time that they are with the organization, they are able to participate in programs that give them a structured journey to self-sufficiency. Not only that, but families can stay in the program for up to six months and can participate in intense financial and debt reduction planning to help pay off debts.
More importantly, Frew-Waters wants everyone to understand that the face of homelessness in New Hampshire has changed. “Well-educated, college people have come to the shelter because of layoffs and lack of employment, as well as cancer survivors who have trouble paying off their medical bills and hard-working, every day people like our neighbors are,” says Frew-Waters. “Homelessness is not about people who expect something for nothing; they want to earn a living wage and live in a good home.” Families work hard to set goals and reverse the process because, as Frew-Waters points out, it isn’t something that happens over night. There was a series of events that led them to that point, and Seacoast Family Promise is there to assist them in getting back on their feet.
Organization members and volunteers work together every day to build trust with the families that come through their doors, many of whom are single-parent families. The average age of homelessness in New Hampshire is 8 years old, and three quarters of the children served at Seacoast Family Promise are under 5. Frew-Waters notes that they work hard because “when you save a family, you save the child and their future.”
In the 12 years that Frew-Waters has been with Seacoast Family Promise, it has never been dull, or even what she thought that it would be like. “I marvel at the resiliency, and have loved watching people grow and change under these circumstances,” she says. “If I had to come to a safe family program, I would come here with my family. I am just always amazed at watching their tenacity.” Seacoast Family Promise families remain as family long after they leave the organization. Ninety-five percent of families have never returned to homelessness, and many come back for extra help with budgeting and case management.
“We need to make a change now in order to make tomorrow successful,” notes Frew-Waters. “This can happen to anyone at anytime.”
How You Can Help
Volunteers play a crucial role in the success of Seacoast Family Promise. Seacoast engages over 1,400 volunteers every year from faith communities, businesses, community organizations and clubs. From visiting their new home base on 27 Hampton Rd., Exeter, to volunteering, here are a few ways that you can help:
- Volunteering: If you’d like to donate your time to Seacoast Family Promise, get in touch here. Volunteers can help with everything from cooking meals to providing homework assistance to reading books to helping during the day with administration work in the office.
- Donating: Donations are welcome at any time and can be made online here. They can also be made in the form of gift cards to gas stations, Walmart, Rite-Aid, Walgreens and grocery stores.
- Becoming a Host or Partner: Seacoast is always looking for new host partners and partner organizations. Contact (603) 658-8448 for more information.
Finally, you can always participate in Seacoast Family Health events or specific donation programs. With the holidays quickly approaching, Seacoast Family Promise is looking for volunteers to “adopt a family” for Thanksgiving or Christmas. Each year, the organization assists former guest families with a dinner for Thanksgiving or Christmas, as working families can often find it difficult to find extra money for holiday meals. There have been requests for over 30 families and if you are interested in helping, then you can complete the form and find more information on the page listed here.
To learn more about Seacoast Family Promise and all the ways you can get involved, visit their website here.
Do you know of an organization or charitable event that would make a great Good Cause of the Month? Send your ideas to Assistant Editor Emily Heidt at firstname.lastname@example.org.