New Braunfels is no stranger to helping those in need, including Family Promise of Greater New Braunfels which partners with local churches to house those on the brink of homelessness.

National nonprofit Family Promise partners with about 20 local churches to house families, attend to their needs and administer a program where they learn job and financial skills.

In 2020, the nonprofit served 33 families in the community. 

Around 2012, New Braunfels was identified as a community that had “a need here” for it, said Family Promise executive director Sarah Dixon. In 2013, the nonprofit began and has since had 55 families complete the Shelter Program and graduate.

“We want to help families in the community that are not yet homeless but really close,” Dixon said. “Maybe they’ve gotten behind on rent because they lost work hours or lost the job.”

Families will stay at church shelters which the church operates without any intention to convert them. Churches will provide shelter for a week at a time through the Shelter Program.

Families can go to the Family Promise day offices, acting as “home base” with laundry facilities, small kitchens and other useful resources.

 Family Promise then has families go through the Prevention Program which uses case management to see what the family needs help with, such as finances or finding and getting hired for a job. 

Dixon said families are affected financially due to unforeseen circumstances, and so Family Promise hopes to point them in the right direction. 

“What makes us different from other shelters is we are focused on long term stability,” Dixon said. “It’s designed to help with the current situation and also to be forward looking and help families be prepared for future emergencies.”

A common misconception is that low-income families are in their situation of their own fault, Dixon said. 

“Most of the time there are a lot of people in the community that are just one emergency away from needing help,” Dixon said. “That emergency might be a car breaks down or someone has a medical emergency or they have their hours cut.”

For families, Dixon said it is important they have a “strong support system” guiding and encouraging them along the way. 

After families “graduate” from the case management program, they often stay in touch for the Family Promise Graduate Program. In 2020, the Graduate Program served eight families with 15 children total.

These families meet monthly with the nonprofit’s Family Services Coordinator to review their budgets, discuss work-life issues, attend workshops and “celebrate their successes,” Dixon said.

They remain housed, get job promotions or improve their job situations. Three of Family Promise’s local graduates have returned to college: two are finishing their bachelor’s degrees and another is pursuing a master’s degree, Dixon said.

The nonprofit  also gifted three graduate families donated cars from the community. 

In times of crisis

When coronavirus hit, it left many families laid off or unable to work due to the nature of their job if they cannot work remotely.

Churches also closed, so the nonprofit has reduced the number of families it can serve since it is not safe to move families from church to church. It has instead assisted families in its new Stable Housing Initiative Program, where families receive case management help on financial literacy, connecting to resources and “experiencing the value of community,” Dixon said.

Some of their volunteers in a high risk group, so the nonprofit also decreased its volunteer help out of caution, Dixon said.

“2020 has been a busy, yet, hopeful and innovative time for Family Promise,” Dixon said. “The COVID-19 shutdown reduced the number of families we could assist in our comprehensive care shelter program. Still, we have sheltered seven families, with a total of 15 children so far this year. Without Family Promise, these are families who would have had no housing during a pandemic.”

To get involved with Family Promise, visit www.fpgnb.org or call 830-214-0024.

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