Families Moving Forward (FMF) has a lofty goal – to end homelessness, one family at a time. And, one family at a time, they are achieving that goal. They work to provide routines, computer access, childcare, transportation and financial education to assist homeless families in finding work and housing. In addition, they partner with about 80 congregations around the area to provide temporary shelter and hospitality.
Honestly, hosting FMF is a big undertaking for the congregations. The program requires 125-150 volunteers per week, as well as sufficient physical space and accommodations. But the joy for volunteers comes in knowing they are helping FMF to “cure” homelessness in our community and in making those connections that are so important for each and every one of us. Chris Anderson, Director of Community Outreach, says “It’s a great faith/family experience. We have whole families volunteering together. The FMF families quickly become a part of Mount Calvary.”
One of our goals, in hosting FMF at Mount Calvary, is to provide families experiencing homelessness with a safe space that feels like a real home. As Pastor Dave says, “It’s deep, honest caring from a friendship level, more than just a volunteer position.” Rather than doling out the ubiquitous sloppy joes and spaghetti, Mount Calvary volunteers ask the FMF families what kind of meals they’d like during their week here. They include a barbecue night, and a night where the FMF families are invited to do the cooking. During our March hosting week, the FMF group included a family from Puerto Rico that had lost their home to Hurricane Maria. The family helped to prepare a special meal, spoke Spanish with some of our local Spanish-language students, and led prayers for Mount Calvary and all our volunteers.
My favorite thing was seeing the quilts the Mount Calvary quilters sewed to lovingly place on each bed for the families. My grandmas both made quilts, and my mom makes quilts, so the quilts at my house are a special part of “home” to me. Along with the quilts, volunteers slid mints onto each pillow, and provided a personal, handcrafted bag of toys and essentials for each child and adult. They used their creative and caring gifts to remind our visitors that each of them is a loved child of God.
Of course, in caring and being cared for, we too, are reminded of that love. Pastor Dave says that when we come alongside people and share ourselves with them, it creates the sense that we’re all the family of God. And isn’t it delightful to think that maybe tonight, somewhere, in a safe, new home, someone could be praying for us in Spanish?