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Family Promise

What is Family Promise?

Each night in Polk County, over 400 adults and children in families are homeless; half are children. The impact of losing a home is traumatic, especially for children. The resulting instability creates insecurity, worry, low self-esteem, and difficulty focusing in school and studying.

Family Promise strives to create a safe, stable and nurturing environment for the children as well as to support the efforts of their parents in securing employment and housing.  This is accomplished through a network of 13 area religious congregations, who provide shelter and nutritious meals for one week every three months.  During their host week, volunteers from the congregation create a home-like atmosphere where guests can receive what they need: rest, hope, respect, confidence boosting and a sense of control in their lives.  Learn more:  Family Promise of Greater Des Moines

As a host congregation in the network, OLIH, hosts up to fourteen guests for one week every three months.  Normally, the guests make our church facilitates home between the hours of 5pm and 6am. Their days are typically spent at work, school, or the Family Promise center in Des Moines.

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Volunteers Needed

A few weeks prior to our host week, we post a volunteer sign-up board in the gathering space.  It takes over 200 hours of volunteer service from OLIH parishioners to make a host week successful. Please consider sharing your time and talent by volunteering for one of the following opportunities:

Dinner Preparers: Dinner is a hot, well-balanced meal, usually prepared at the volunteer’s home.  The dinner preparers usually meet in the kitchen and have dinner ready to serve at 6pm. Milk and lemonade/juice are purchased ahead of time by the Family Promise supply coordinators. Cooking dinner is a good opportunity for church groups to get involved in helping.  For larger groups, we ask that you try to limit the number of servers/attendees.

Evening Hosts arrive in the kitchen/dining area around 6pm and stay until 8:30pm.  Hosts socialize and eat dinner with the guests.  Hosts often assist parents with children’s needs. Some activities might include board games, cards, arts/crafts, basketball, etc.

Overnight Hosts: Two hosts, usually one male and one female, spend the night at the church.  Overnight hosts are available in case of an emergency. Other responsibilities include turning off lights around 9-10pm, waking guests by 6am.  Overnight hosts are asked to stay from 8:30pm-7:00am. 

Breakfast Preparers: On weekdays, one or two volunteers arrive at 5:30am to prepare breakfast and clean-up, allowing overnight hosts to leave in time for work.  Breakfast is a quick, simple meal (cereal, muffins, toast, juice, coffee) because guests must be ready to leave on the van at 6am.

Often, on weekends, breakfast is more relaxed since the guests do not leave for the center until 10am on Saturday and 7am on Sunday.   Therefore, breakfast preparers may choose to make something more substantial, such as bacon and eggs, or pancakes.

Laundry: Each host week, one or two volunteers wash and return the guests and overnight hosts` towels and sheets.

Van Drivers: Drivers are needed to transport guests from OLIH to the Family Promise Day Center in Des Moines each morning and then return them to OLIH each evening.  The Family Promise program provides a fifteen passenger van for transportation.


For More Information

Please contact OLIH representatives Todd & Donna Halbach at 494-4714 and Tom & Katie Strabbing at 964-2417 if you have questions or would like additional information about the program at OLIH. 

For information on Shelter and Services in the Des Moines area, click here.