Just ask Lois Pozega, executive director of the nonprofit organization, who regularly works seven days a week doing what she calls “a labor of love.”
“I grew up in a family where we always had enough food,” she says. “My father was always bringing people home to eat with us. We were taught ‘we are blessed, and we are to give back.’ ”
Since opening its doors in 2008, Family Promise has served 350 guests, and five families can stay with it at any given time. The organization leverages a network of congregations and volunteers to meet homeless families’ immediate needs for shelter, meals and comprehensive support services.
Here’s how the program works: It’s a combination of compassion, encouragement and tough love. From 5:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., guest families stay at the day center in Oberlin, where they can shower, do laundry, chores and spend time together as a family. Much of the day is spent working with a network director and a case manager to seek childcare, housing, jobs and other needed resources.
School-age children are transported to their schools of origin to provide normalcy in their education during a time of instability. At night, guest families are transported to a host congregation, which provides dinner, activities and a safe, comfortable place for the parents and children to sleep. Each congregation hosts for a week at a time.
“We have 700 volunteers, and we could not run our program without volunteers,” Pozega says. “We are a bare-bones organization with only two full-time people including myself.”
Families stay with Family Promise for an average of 57 days. More than 90 percent of the families go on to subsidized housing with Lorain Metropolitan Housing Authority, Pozega says.
“Our funders are asking us to grow,” she says. “They want us to double our numbers because there are so many families in our county who have desperate need for housing.”
Meet a Volunteer: Jack Kubicki
What he loves about the area: “Lorain County seems like it has a lot of people and organizations who are compassionate and who really care about the well-being of others,” he says. “I’ve found that to be true, whether I was living in Avon Lake or moving out here to Henrietta Township.”
Why he and his wife devote their time to Family Promise: As a young family, the Kubickis hit hard times: Jack lost his job and Susan, pregnant with their third child, was put on bed rest. “We had nobody to turn to. We were falling through the cracks. But Community Services of Avon Lake helped us get through a very trying time in our lives, and I promised them we will pay this back.”
On the outreach work congregations do to help homeless families in Lorain County: “We have 13 congregations that the families go to on a weekly basis. They provide meals, activities, friendship and camaraderie 365 days a year,” Kubicki says. “I can’t think of a better organization that helps families than Family Promise.”