Volunteer Testimonials

 

Kari Haas
Volunteer Coordinator : Peace Lutheran Church

I enjoy volunteering (and being one of the volunteer coordinators for our church) because Family Promise is such a great program for the people it serves. I like that the families have to do their part by agreeing to certain requirements, and in return, are assisted in so many ways on their journey to a more stable living situation.  

I love seeing the kids and interacting with them and their families, especially at the evening meal. These kids are just like any others their age, except that for awhile they have to stay in churches rather than in a home of their own. It’s my hope that this experience is a positive one for all of them, and is seen as just a temporary step in the process to getting into their own place. The support they receive in this program is amazing, and the life skills they work on will help them forge a stronger future.

Other programs I volunteer for include Love, INC’s Clothes Closet, Community Café, and ROC Wheels. All have their own purpose, but are simply ways that those of us who are able can help and serve those who need a hand up. We may not think we’re doing much, but it can mean the world to someone going through hard times. And who doesn’t want to make someone else’s life just a little brighter?

Kristin Bryant
Volunteer Coordinator : E-Free Church

I strongly believe that one way to live out my Christian faith is by showing compassion and caring to others. Family Promise gives me the opportunity to reach out people in my community I might have no other opportunity to know and serve. Family Promise offers a structured, helpful strategy to help families improve their money management, employment and housing options to give them a new way of living. And while the families are in the program, I love how people from many diverse church affiliations and some from the community at large come together to feed and spend time with them in the evenings at the churches. Stories are shared and relationships are formed.

I really enjoy being a Volunteer Coordinator because I can give so many people in my home congregation the opportunity to serve in this way. When we first introduced it to our congregation so many people told me they had heard of Family Promise and wanted to get involved but weren’t sure how. They were so glad we had become a partner church. My time is limited, but when I add in all of the volunteers in my church, my efforts are multiplied.

Finally one of the more meaningful stories for me just happened a few evenings ago. One of the former guests and her daughter were in their church that Sunday when they read in the bulletin that volunteers were needed for the upcoming week. They both knew they couldn’t wait to start giving back to Family Promise (even though they had only moved out a month ago!). They offered their services any of the evenings we need evening hosts.

Mike Tess
Board Member & Volunteer Coordinator : Bozeman Church of Christ

Our congregation, the Bozeman Church of Christ, has been part of the Family Promise team for about 10 years. My wife, Kathy, and I have been volunteering since the beginning.  For me, caring for the homeless and the disadvantaged is an important part of what Christ called his disciples to do.  I think Jesus calls us to be like him – compassionate and serving.  Working alone, one congregation could not provide for the needs of homeless families; but working together as a team we can accomplish much.  I’m grateful to be part of that team.

Over the years Kathy and I have volunteered in nearly every capacity – providing meals, staying overnight, setting up, welcoming, etc.  I have served as the Volunteer Coordinator and now I am privileged to serve on the Board of Directors.  We have met more people than I can remember; with each family experiencing different circumstances and challenges.  It’s a real blessing to try to be of service these good people.  I am reminded often that members of our home congregation could easily face homelessness through the loss of employment or health. 

Barb Moe     
Volunteer Coordinator : Hope Lutheran Church

When my husband and I moved to Bozeman we were looking for a church that supported programs that helped others.  Hope Lutheran was that church and the Human Concerns committee offered many opportunities to serve those folks that were struggling and needing a helping hand offered in love and concern.  Family Promise had just lost one of its coordinators so I volunteered to fill that opening.

Family Promise has been one of the most rewarding programs I have been involved with.  I so like the way the families are encouraged to learn skills that will help them transition into a self-sufficient family life.  There have been so many wonderful experiences involving the families that I have met through the program and it is so uplifting to see their joy when they have met their goals and are able to move into their own homes and provide their children with a more stable, loving environment.  The hugs received from the children and most of the parents fill my heart with love and gratitude that I have been able to be a part of their journey to independence.

I have been a volunteer for several different entities; the Community Cupboard, Special Olympics equestrian coach, 4-H leader, Sunday and Bible School teacher these in Lewistown where I lived until we moved to Bozeman.  In Bozeman, my husband and I are involved in the Mobile Soup Kitchen, Family Promise, Sunday and Bible School teachers.  We feel we have been so blessed in our lives that it is our obligation to help others that are less fortunate or have temporarily fallen on hard times.  We volunteer because that is what Jesus asks of us and by following this path our hearts are filled with joy, love, and understanding of lives that we would have never known had we not stepped up to volunteer.  Family Promise is the one volunteer need we have supported where you can actually see, be a part of, and experience the joy of helping someone help themselves.

Betty Merta
Volunteer Coordinator : United Methodist Church

I moved to Bozeman from Chicago several years ago, so I was very much aware of the plight of the homeless – in a city. In Chicago, my husband and I volunteered at a number of soup kitchens and at homeless shelters, so we were looking to find a way to help out here.

At our first or second visit to Bozeman United Methodist Church, several people mentioned Family Promise and its mission, so we went to the training. I learned that Family Promise was a pretty amazing organization, and the volunteers play an active, front-seat role in providing food and shelter.

My husband and I love hosting the dinners. We get to meet, talk and share with people we don’t know – some of whom could easily be my friends. I remember one occasion where a family brought a board game and we played together after dinner – so much laughter…  Another time, I talked with a woman who really needed someone to listen to her, and I was privileged to be in that place at that time.

Now, as a volunteer coordinator, my role is different. I allow others to step in and feed the hungry. For me, that’s a little hard, but I know that the families are being fed – probably by a better cook than me – and that someone else is learning what I’ve learned and experiencing what I’ve experienced, and that’s good too.

Tonya Stevens
Volunteer Coordinator : Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Bozeman

Becoming a Family Promise Volunteer Coordinator for my fellowship has allowed me to engage in support of people at a very personal level. In the past, our family donated money for the benefit of homeless people. Now, I clearly see how the donation of one’s time and energy in addition to money is so necessary to help people find a different path in the world. Spending time with our guests keeps me from insulating myself in the bubble of middle class prosperity and forces me to deal with questions of how economic disparities come about.

I have some pride in the fact that we are making our community better by lifting a burden, temporarily, from those who have hit a bad patch in their lives. And I gain additional benefit by learning more about my own congregation and willing volunteers. The wisdom of the older fellowship members, who are primarily the ones with the time to act as hosts, is a precious gift to both the guests and myself. My former volunteer experience has involved protecting oceans and forests for the benefit of fish and wildlife.  But now I get to help protect people for a short time as they get back on their feet!  I won’t be giving this job up any time soon.

Nancy Winget
Volunteer Coordinator : St. James Episcopal Church

I love being a volunteer for Family Promise!  Why?  Because I see families working to make a difference in the lives of their children and themselves.  Kevin once told me that being in Family Promise is not an easy decision, there are lots of rules and decisions to make.  And yet these parents (and sometimes grandparents) are making those hard decisions, and making changes in their life style.  Not all families complete the program successfully, but by volunteering I know that I have helped them, if only for a few hours.  I enjoy sitting down with the families, eating dinner, watching them interact, and knowing that by being there I am enabling them to have a warm place to sleep, a good dinner to eat, and a chance to be a family at the end of a busy day.

During one dinner, a guest told me that her mother, father, and sister were all homeless, and had been for several years.  She grew up in a series of foster homes, because her mom and dad were homeless and so not able to care for her.  I will never forget her words: “I’m breaking the cycle of homelessness for my daughter!”  Those words are, to me, the very real story of “ending homelessness one family at a time”.  I am so proud to be a small part of the Family Promise program!

Virginia Sorensen
Volunteer Coordinator : Peace Lutheran Church

My involvement with Family Promise began when our pastor encouraged our church family to partner with another church.  It is such a “real life” opportunity to live out the Christian Faith.

There are many challenges for families today and I feel like any of us could be tossed into an unexpected situation and need “a hand” from people around us.

As a young person, I watched my mother reach out to people in our small, rural community and that was a model to me.  Plus — when I’m helping someone else, it reminds me to be grateful!!!

Through Family Promise I have met many “new friends;” volunteers with other churches and the guests.  I “love it” when the kids see you and have a look of recognition on their faces!  I smile when I recall a 3rd gr. boy who was working on homework.  I had come by their room after supper to see if there would be an opportunity to do something with them.  He invited me right in and asked if I could help him!!  It all felt so comfortable!

 

I have volunteered in numerous ways; mostly through some connection with my church family.   Other places are activities with my kids and through jobs.  Volunteering is a way to truly enter in to the life of a community!

Terri Wolfgram
Volunteer Coordinator : First Lutheran Church

I have been a Family Promise Coordinator since the beginning of the program 11 years ago.  Having been a foster parent for 17 years I was well acquainted with working with families “in transition” and was delighted to help the program in any way that I could.   It is not an easy program and not all families are able to adapt to the contract and the” life change” that are required to live up to that contract.  However, we are always encouraged by the fact that they have been provided with some coping skills and knowledge of resources that will help them in the future. 

Even though some families leave the program early, the “success stories” that we have had in the past 11 years make every minute of volunteer time well worth the effort.  Of course, like all of the volunteers, I have my favorite memories.  There was a young mother of two little boys who was so overwhelmed and grateful that we would house and feed them and help to get them back on their feet.  When they graduated from the program, they drove past every church where they had stayed, waved, and said “Thanks for the memories!”  Her boys have grown into strapping young men now, almost ready to take on the world!  Or the young father who had been a member of a gang in California.  He would return to the church every evening from his new job, so exuberant about his work and the fact that people trusted him with responsibility, that he just could not stop talking about it!  He was just like a little kid bouncing off the walls with excitement and he had the biggest smile on his face that you have ever seen!  He still works for that company and has moved into management.  The Family Promise program and his employer were such a blessing to him and, in return, he has become a blessing to his employer and the community!

There are many more guests that I will never forget and when I chance to meet them out in the community, it warms my heart to see them, hear about their successes and to know that Family Promise made the difference in their lives.