LUBBOCK, TX (AP) - As Family Promise of Lubbock answers an increasing number of calls for help, it has created "The Spirit House" for homeless families and their newborn babies.
Holy Spirit Catholic Church provided funding for Family Promise, a non-profit helping empower homeless families with children since 1998, to renovate a facility on the property of its current "Promise House" to provide two new bedrooms, full bathroom, utility room and living room for families in need.
"There hasn't been a place where homeless expectant mothers can go," Family Promise Executive Director Doug Morris said. "This is the place they can come to us even before birth and be in a safe place, in a nurturing place. She can go have her baby, come back and get established with her child and not have the pressure of finding a job right away. We're going to help nurture her, help the baby and make sure it is healthy and has a firm foundation and then the mom can go out confidently and work."
Nearly 30 churches in the Lubbock area have volunteered meals, money and much more to join the staff of Family Promise to care for families. That help includes donating the furnishings for the new house: Holy Spirit Catholic Church, Monterey Church of Christ, Raintree Christian Church, Second Baptist Church and Wayne Kohout of First Christian Church.
"I really think the magic formula is the relationships," Morris said. "You can't just put someone in a house or apartment and say they are no longer homeless. It takes much more than that. It takes mentoring. They have to learn how to be independent. That's one of the things our staff does, to make sure that they know how when they have this independence, this freedom, how to use that and remain self-sufficient for the rest of their lives."
New moms are able to utilize Family Promise's Pregnancy Care or "Loving Arms" program that includes classes designed to help them prepare a firm foundation for the baby while finding employment and financial stability.
For others, at no charge, assistance can be anything from shelter to clothing to transportation to a job interview. This process has helped 23 families complete the Family Promise program and live independently in the last two years.
Lakeisha Guinyard escaped a toxic marriage with her newborn baby and three other children but, in the process, ended up with nowhere to go.
"It was really overwhelming to be at a point where you feel like you should be settled and situated in life and then to be at a point where you're like, 'Ok I am homeless with four children,'" Guinyard said. "You don't know what you are going to do. I didn't know where to turn."
However, she found Family Promise.
"Oh my goodness, the moment I got here things completely turned around for me," Guinyard said. "It was exactly what I needed. It was the help exactly what I needed. Then to be surrounded by so many people willing to give of themselves, of their time, of their resources was just amazing for me. It was really what I needed."
Guinyard was able to get her family reestablished and into a routine. She says Family Promise was able to provide her the environment and transportation to start the job she wanted.
"Not only do I live in my own place and have a job, but I was able to save money to the point where when I moved out I didn't have the fear of returning to the place of not knowing what I was going to do," Guinyard said.
"We don't believe in giving handouts. We believe in a hand up," Morris said. "We don't believe in enabling them. We believe in empowering them so that they can get on their feet. Because if they do it on their own, their self esteem comes up. They just light up. They feel so much better about themselves. Now they are proud to be a parent. They come in here and they are broken because they couldn't provide for the family. 'My kids are going to grow up homeless just like me if I don't do something.' We just provide the atmosphere to allow them to do that to get back on their feet."
Families typically stay in Family Promise for 60-90 days.
For more information about the programs at Family Promise of Lubbock, or to donate, call (806) 744-5035 or click here.