By ASHLEIGH LIVINGSTON
---- — PLATTSBURGH — After 10 years of dedicated effort to help struggling families get back on their feet, Family Promise of Clinton County faces an uncertain future.
At a meeting at the John XXIII College Community Parish in Plattsburgh at noon Wednesday, the nonprofit organization’s Board of Directors will vote on whether to suspend its 2013 operations until it has a clearer picture of what kind of budget it will have for next year.
The organization helps about 25 families a year by offering them a temporary home at one of 10 faith congregations in the county, where volunteers prepare meals and help with child care.
Twenty-five families may not seem very many, Director Maureen Bradish said, “but we do more than just provide a place to sleep.”
Family Promise provides more intensive case management than is otherwise available, she said, as during the day, program participants come to the Family Promise Day Center in Plattsburgh for support services that include assistance finding housing and jobs. Family Promise also runs an Eviction Prevention Program and meets other needs.
That means, Bradish said, that families often spend less time as Family Promise clients than they might staying in the low-budget motels that is the alternative through Clinton County Social Services.
Just now, she said, there is a family of six in the program. If they were put up in a motel, they’d need two rooms, which would cost about $500 a week. So far, that family has been served by Family Promise for a month, which would otherwise have cost $2,000 or more for shelter.
As well, Bradish pointed out, families often develop strong connections with Family Promise volunteers, which helps stack the deck in their favor when it comes to maintaining a residence in the future.
“A lot of my families have no (other) supports.”
And this support could be gone, as well.
“The funding streams that we’ve had in the past aren’t available anymore,” Bradish said.
Family Promise relies heavily on money from the federal, state and local governments. In previous years, the organization received just under half of its funding from federal Emergency Food and Shelter funds and state Emergency Shelter grants; however, those monies weren’t available this year.
In addition, Bradish said, federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families funding, given to Family Promise through a contract with Clinton County, will also likely not be available for 2013.
“I know the economy is bad, and it’s hard for people to be able to give,” she said.
As a result, Family Promise, which costs about $112,000 annually to operate, is struggling to finance the program for the remainder of this calendar year, let alone the next.
Though the organization does host fundraisers to supplement its income, Bradish said, “we just can’t do our whole budget on fundraising.”
Throughout its existence, Family Promise (formerly the Interfaith Hospitality Network) has provided food, shelter and support to numerous area families, which, for one reason or another, found themselves without a place to live.
For example, Bradish said, some families helped by the program have lost their homes to fire or lost their primary sources of income, while others are single mothers who struggle to make ends meet.
“The numbers for homelessness just keep increasing,” she said.
The goal, Bradish said, is to help families get back on their feet and into their own homes within 30 days.
“Family Promise confirms for me the compassion and thoughtfulness of our community,” said Douglas Skopp, a member of the organization’s Board of Directors.
“It would be a tremendous shame if we are unable to continue with our mission.”
On Saturday, Oct. 27, the organization, in conjunction with both the Town and the City of Plattsburgh, will host the Great Pumpkin Prediction Race in hopes of raising enough money to at least sustain the program through the end of the year.
The event, at the Crete Civic Center, will feature Halloween-inspired foot races for all ages.
Participants are encouraged to wear costumes and may choose between courses of different distances.
Individuals may preregister for the event by Monday, Oct. 15, by visiting greatpumpkinrace.webs.com. Preregistration cost $20 for adults and $15 for children age 16 and younger.
People may also register at the Crete Center between 10 and 11:45 a.m. on the day of the races for $30.
The races start at noon, and prizes will be awarded to race winners, as well as winners of various costume categories.
In addition, Uno Chicago Grill in Plattsburgh will make donations to Family Promise when diners present their servers with special coupons that will be given out at the race.
Those coupons can also be obtained at the Family Promise office at 36 Brinkerhoff St. in Plattsburgh.
“We’re just really trying to keep our doors open as long as we can,” Bradish said.
Email Ashleigh Livingston: firstname.lastname@example.org
TO LEARN MORE
For more information about Family Promise of Clinton County, contact Maureen Bradish at 562-0710.
ON THE WEB Check online today at www.pressrepublican.com to learn what was decided at the noon Family Promise Board of Directors meeting