Press-Republican

October 4, 2012

Family Promise to suspend operations

Tomorrow will mark last day of program for homeless

By SUZANNE MOORE
Press-Republican

---- — PLATTSBURGH — Family Promise of the North Country is suspending operations.

“This Friday will be the last day we will have families in the program,” said Director Maureen Bradish after the Board of Directors meeting Wednesday when the decision was made.

The Plattsburgh-based organization, which serves homeless families, lost its most vital streams of funding due to changes in grant specifications and because some monies just aren’t available anymore.

“If we had the funds, we’d stay open,” said Kevin McCown, a board member for about six months. “It’s a shame it has to be this way because there are a lot of families out there that need our help.”

Bradish said Tuesday that local fundraisers help tremendously, but with an annual budget of some $112,000, grant funding is critical.

Family Promise took referrals from Clinton County Department of Social Services, putting up families overnight at churches and a synagogue, with teams of volunteers pitching in to help. 

She is meeting with the coordinators from each congregation today.

“I have so much confidence in the volunteers,” Bradish said. “They are great.”

TWO FAMILIES

During the daytime, clients utilized services at the group’s Day Center in Plattsburgh, searching for housing and jobs and other needs.

They otherwise would have been given a room at a local low-budget motel at a cost to taxpayers of at least $250 weekly, without the many services Family Promise provided.

Bradish has two families in the program now and hopes both will have moved into permanent housing by Friday.

McCown, his girlfriend, Mary Burnell, and their four children are one of them.

About a month ago, they lost their apartment because it did not meet Housing and Urban Development specifications for the number of bedrooms according to the structure of their family.

They require three, and HUD said they couldn’t stay in a place with only two bedrooms.

“We do have (a new place) lined up,” he said in a phone interview, the sounds of his children playing in the background. “We should be in there soon.”

FUNDRAISER STILL ON

The local Family Promise was founded a decade ago, then called the Greater Plattsburgh Interfaith Hospitality Network. The name was changed by the national organization whose tenets the Plattsburgh group follows.

A representative from the national headquarters will come to Plattsburgh to meet with the Board of Directors in the near future, Bradish said, to look at whether some yet-unknown effort could be made to save the program.

“We might be able to restructure and bounce back,” McCown said.

A fundraiser for the organization tagged the Great Pumpkin Prediction Race will still take place, Bradish said, to help pay the bills. It is set for Oct. 27 at the Crete Civic Center in Plattsburgh.

Director since the program’s inception, Bradish said the hands-on approach to helping folks, getting to know them, makes all the difference.

“You see things so much differently when you’re working with a family than you do if they are sitting across from your desk,” she said.

Bradish has stayed in touch with many families served by Family Promise, and she has seen how how many were able to get on their feet and stay there, Bradish said. 

“That’s what I love — they really just needed short-term help, and then they’re fine.

“There are many of those.

Sleepless nights pursued her as she realized this latest financial crisis might end the program she has nurtured for so long.

The organization had struggled in the past but funding always became available somehow.

McCown urged the community to help find a way to save the program.

In the present economical climate, he said, speaking from experience, “it could be someone’s kid, their parents ...” who find themselves homeless.

“You never know who will need the services of Family Promise,” he said.

Email Suzanne Moore: smoore@pressrepublican.com