Family Promise of Greater Cleveland was created by the merger of two organizations, New Life Community and Interfaith Hospital Network. Both non-profits served the local, homeless population of Greater Cleveland.
In the summer of 1990, four families moved into their apartments in a building on Kinsman and East 154th Street as part of a pilot project called New Life Community. New Life Community had been shaped gradually over two years through an ecumenical prayer group organized by Tom and Grace Uhle. Tom was awakened in the night with a clear sense of a call to provide a transitional housing program for the homeless families of Cleveland. New Life was modeled after a program in Dallas called Interfaith Housing Coalition.
In 1992 the founders of New Life Community bought the St. Cecelia's Parish School building for $1 from the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland, and raised the money to renovate the interior into 14 apartments with offices and program space on the lower level. Today this space still offers shelter to homeless families on the upper two floors; and houses agency staff and programs on the lower level.
IHN was always a family affair for Kay Bork, founder of Interfaith Hospitality Network of Greater Cleveland. While living in Cincinnati, Kay's two young sons loved to volunteer with IHN. After moving to Cleveland, her sons asked when they could once again play with their IHN friends. Kay learned that IHN had not yet come to Cleveland. National IHN encouraged her to take action and start a local affiliate.
Kay's enthusiasm for IHN and her passion to help homeless families was contagious. Soon enough churches and synagogues had agreed to host. After much hard work, the first host week occurred in July 1998 at Church of the Saviour in Cleveland Heights. Families welcomed warmly by host congregations told her they never knew that so many people cared. IHN opened new doors for homeless families. Over the years the congregation network grew to over 60 "host" and "support" churches and synagogues that provided meals and overnight accommodations to homeless families throughout the community.
Family Promise of Greater Cleveland grew out of the shared mission and close collaboration of New Life Community and Interfaith Hospitality Network of Greater Cleveland. After two years of careful planning, the Boards of Directors voted to combine organizations and become Family Promise of Greater Cleveland.
In May 2011, Family Promise of Greater Cleveland became a reality. In the fall of 2012 the Board of Directors launched a strategic plan to take the newly merged agency into the future. Building on the strong programs of the original agencies, services were evolved to incorporate new research and best practices, and to best respond to the changing needs of homeless families in the community. In January 2015 Family Promise formally merged its emergency shelter and transitional housing programs into one "temporary housing" model to address the unique needs of each homeless family, and to assist each family in finding housing and needed supportive services as quickly as possible. Through it all, Family Promise of Greater Cleveland has consistently maintained its mission of serving homeless families, and helping them to transform their lives and achieve independence.
Family Promise of Greater Cleveland is an affiliate of national Family Promise, which partners with 162 affiliates spread from Alaska to Florida. As an affiliate, Family Promise of Greater Cleveland is free to create programs to meet local community needs while being connected to a pool of resources in homeless services research and best practices, technology, government relations and advocacy to have an even stronger voice for homeless families.
Visit the national Family Promise site to learn more.