One of Fifth’s core ministry efforts is Ending Homelessness in our community. In this effort, we partner with Family Promise to host families currently unhoused in our church building! Our host week is coming up soon – March 3-10. Here is a glimpse into how the week is spent for the guests and our church volunteers. On Sunday after church, volunteers will move in beds and other supplies to set up our Sunday school rooms upstairs as bedrooms for up to 5 families (often a mother or father with a few children). The guests arrive at church in the evening for Sunday dinner and to settle in for the new week, greeted by an evening host volunteer.
During the week, the guests spend each weekday at a job or at the Family Promise Center where support is provided to help families address barriers and identify new housing, and children are bused to their schools. Each night, they return to church for a dinner prepared by our volunteers. At least one volunteer host is available for the evening to play with children or help in other small ways as families relax for the evening. Two volunteers come at 8:30 PM to be the overnight representatives from our church on site. The volunteers are available for any needs that arise but also get a good night’s sleep on rollaway cots in a private area of the main room. After helping to make sure all guests are up, everyone is out the door again by 7 AM.
On Saturdays, the Family Promise Center is not open, so the church is open all day and volunteers are available in 2-hour shifts throughout the day to provide hospitality to those who stay in to rest and to open the doors for those who may be coming and going with activities during the day. The week wraps up on Sunday morning with volunteers transporting guests and their belongings back to Family Promise and cleaning up to convert the space back into Sunday school classrooms.
There are many ways you can get involved! We still have multiple openings for our upcoming host week starting on Sunday, March 3. Please look at the SignUp Genius to see the spots that remain open where you could serve. If you are interested in a role but would like to observe for your first time, we’d love to pair you up with an experienced volunteer. Please call or text Joel Wierenga (215) 859-0380 or Marijo Zimmerman (616) 446-5246 if you have questions about volunteering.
Fifth has supported Family Promise since 1999! According to Family Promise records, during that time we have cared for over 3,250 people, shared over 18,000 meals, and provided over 600 nights of shelter. Behind those numbers are many stories – both for volunteers and families! Family Promise recently shared two stories with us of families who were sheltered within the network of partner churches and were able to successfully transition to new housing at the end of 2023. These families are continuing to receive support from Family Promise to ensure they can continue to take steps toward greater stability. We get to be a small part of these journeys for families toward new possibilities and hope during our Host Weeks. Please consider joining in during our upcoming Host Week, March 3-10, 2024, and join in this legacy of service! There are still lots of opportunities to serve in all areas. Please call or text Joel Wierenga (215) 859-0380 or Marijo Zimmerman (616) 446-5246 if you have questions about volunteering.
You can sign up today by clicking HERE for the SignUpGenius.
Fifth has supported Family Promise for more than 25 years and, according to Family Promise records, has given over 26,000 volunteer hours to support unhoused families during that time! We have lots of experience in our church family – but if you have never volunteered, you might have questions about what this ministry really looks like in action. We invite all interested in Family Promise to join us after worship this Sunday, February 18 for a pizza lunch and a brief Q&A session about Family Promise. Learn more about the volunteer roles, hear from past volunteers about their experiences, and sign up for a spot if you are ready! Please join us whether you are considering volunteering for the first time or are a regular volunteer. Our Host Week is March 3-10, 2024.
You can sign up today by clicking HERE for the SignUpGenius.
As we prepare for the first Family Promise Host Week of 2024, we want to share the encouraging words below that we received from Family Promise in recognition of the contributions of Fifth church in 2023 and throughout our years as a host congregation.
You can join this March 3-10 to continue ensuring families in crisis can stay together in a safe and stable place while they get the help they need! Click HERE to review volunteer opportunities and sign up today!
Dear Fifth Reformed Church,
Thank you for faithfully engaging in our Interfaith Hospitality Network and for your amazing commitment to the families we serve. We are proud to partner with you.
We are encouraged by 2 Corinthians 9:8 when it says, “And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.”
That promise in scripture is fulfilled for us by the amazing partnership we share with your congregation as you provide for the needs of kids and families all throughout the year. Entrusting your time, talent, and treasure to this important work of ending homelessness means so much to us at Family Promise. We celebrate the amazing impact you have supporting families in a housing crisis!
Thank you for all you do. We couldn’t do this work without you!
Warmly, Tenisa Frye, CEO & Kelsy Vining, Community Engagement Senior Manager
Facing homelessness in a harsh Michigan winter
West Michigan is emerging this week from significant cold weather. We had dangerously frigid temperatures and slippery roads, resulting in school and church event cancellations. I found myself, probably like many of you, thanking God multiple times over the past few weeks for my warm and cozy home!
Can you imagine what facing the threat of imminent eviction, or not knowing where your family will sleep the next night feels like through a harsh, Michigan winter? Most of us, thankfully cannot. Which may leave us wondering – what brings a family to such a place of crisis? At Fifth, we partner with Family Promise West Michigan to work to bring about an end to homelessness in our community. One way we can work toward this goal is to educate ourselves about the causes behind homelessness so that we better understand how to help. The Family Promise leadership team encourages you to read this article from Family Promise as a brief introduction to understanding three reasons why people fall into homelessness.
At the beginning of the winter season, Family Promise and other organizations serving the unhoused, released an open letter to the West Michigan community highlighting the overwhelming demand for shelter and other services as winter approaches. According to the latest data, the number of individuals and families needing shelter far exceeds the supply of shelter beds in Kent County. Please read this letter to increase your understanding of the dire situations facing many individuals and families, and the social service organizations providing support, right here in Grand Rapids.
As you learn more, you have an opportunity to take an active part in providing a safe and warm environment for families experiencing a housing crisis. Stay tuned for details coming soon about our upcoming Family Promise Host Week, March 3-10. Learn more about how to provide financial support through Fifth’s Room to Grow campaign with Family Promise. And most of all, join us in praying for God’s protection and provision for families in West Michigan this winter.