Tennessee organization provides families emergency shelter, transitional support and housing stability
Every child deserves to know where they’re going to bed at night.
But there are too many stories of unexpected circumstances pushing families onto the streets.
Rev. John-Mark Brown, executive director of Family Promise of Knoxville (FPK), shares one such story, of a single mom with three children under 10.
The Tennessee family was moving to a new apartment and had used every cent to pay rental fees in advance. When they arrived to move in, they learned the landlord had taken their cash, and there was no room for them. They had no choice but to sleep in their car, which, as Rev. Brown explains, “means mom has one eye open the entire night.”
He adds: “It is unimaginable, the idea of trying to keep your children safe, fed, together. The level of uncertainty and trauma that comes with not knowing where you’re going to bed is immense.”
This family, like so many others, arrived at Family Promise of Knoxville for help. The not-for-profit organization offers parents and children emergency shelter and provides guidance through case management for up to two years to help families return to independent housing.
In this case, the timing was fortuitous. FPK had recently launched a program called Bright Futures Transitional Housing, which provides a home to a family for six months. One of FPK’s partner congregations provided the house, and the community raised funds and items to outfit the space. Enbridge supported the initiative with a $5,000 Fueling Futures grant.
Over Easter 2021, the family of four became the first to move into the Enbridge Bright Futures House of Hope.
They started “knocking out goals,” Rev. Brown says. “By the end of the first month, the mother found employment that was a better position with better hours. The kids were starting to make strides in health. By August, it became clear they were going to graduate into long-term supportive housing.”
Bright Futures’ success was so immediately evident, another partner approached FPK to establish a second housing unit.
“The first family’s experience gave us a litmus test to show other landlords, private donors, stakeholders and other congregations,” Rev. Brown adds. “This is an easy way to utilize your space. It will be well taken care of, and you get to help a family get back on their feet.”
Community support means the world to these families, Rev. Brown observes. Parents can focus on getting back on track without worrying about where their children will sleep, and they benefit from FPK’s guidance to make well-informed decisions for the best of their family.
As Rev. Brown says, “Everybody deserves to have the opportunity to redeem their own narrative when they feel like they’ve failed their children.”
KEYWORDS: NYSE:ENB, Enbridge, Family Promise of Knoxville