AP NEWS

Belk and Family Promise partnership brings affiliate to Aiken families in need

February 13, 2019

Family Promise, an organization that assists families facing homelessness, is coming to Aiken to build an affiliate that will keep children and their parents in good homes.

The plan to build 10 new affiliates across the South comes after a new partnership with Belk, who recently announced a $1 million contribution to Family Promise’s mission.

“Every child deserves a home, so we’re proud to partner with Family Promise as they work to keep families together when times get tough,” said Belk CEO Lisa Harper in a press release.

Family homelessness can have a variety of causes, such as layoffs, lack of affordable housing, hospital bills from serious illnesses, or domestic violence. According to The Bassuk Center, more children are homeless in the United States than any other industrialized nation.

″...You have parents with children that are struggling,” Ehlers said. “To allow a child to experience homelessness is to increase that child’s chance of negative outcomes in their life exponentially.”

Family Promise Regional Director Jeanna Beck said that is why the organization helps educate communities and raise awareness on the issue.

“Most people feel like if they don’t see it, it doesn’t exist,” Beck said.

The affiliate, once operational, will employ around 1,000 local volunteers and provide a variety of services to combat homelessness, such as community networking and temporary shelter.

In addition to lessening the number of homeless children, Ehlers said the goal is to get them “sustainably housed and make a permanent change.”

Family Promise’s affiliates rely on the community to thrive. The organization draws upon public input and works with local leaders to build a network of support, charity, and resources that will support the affiliate in the longterm, building a foundation to combat homelessness at the local level.

“The core of family promise is that we use existing resources as much as possible,” Ehlers said.

Those resources can range from contributions to the center, to volunteers who will cook lasagna dinners or help parents write a new resume at the affiliate.

The first step to do this will be a community meeting, which will be held later in February at Aiken’s First Baptist Church. After the meeting, it will take between 18-24 months for the affiliate to be established.

Belk’s donation to Family Promise is part of the program Belk: Project Hometown, whose mission is to strengthen Southern communities.

According to Harper’s statement, Family Promise was one of several groups receiving donations as part of the program.

Belk is asking customers to donate to Family Promise. From now until March 2, they will be collecting donations for the organization at the register in stores.

Learn more about Family Promise at familypromise.org. To learn more about Belk: Project Hometown, visit belk.com.