Frequently Asked Questions

A Typical Week in the Program

What is a typical week at a host congregation like?

During the week there are approximately 25-30 slots for volunteers. Some congregations have a different member for each slot; others have volunteers take on multiple roles. Volunteers come from the host and support congregations as well as from the community and are assigned duties by the Volunteer Coordinators who oversee the week. Overnight hosts need to be background checked.

Contact our Case Manager
  • We arrange for mattresses and the families’ personal belongings to be dropped off at the host congregation.
  • Guest families arrive at the Host Congregation Sunday afternoon. Families assist volunteers in setting up mattresses and, in some case, tents in designated sleeping areas.
Weekdays (after departing the congregation)
  • Parents with cars drop their children off at school. Parents without cars use Lyft/Uber to drop their children off at school. Parents who are employed go to work.
  • If the parents do not have a job, they work with the Director at the Day Center to seek employment, housing, and other resources to help them regain their independence. The Day Center has a travel shower and other necessities to prepare for the day. There is a refrigerator, microwave, toaster and extra food available.
  • Everyone returns to the Host Congregation around 5:30 p.m. and the cycle repeats.
  • Families settle in, relax and meet the coordinators and the evening volunteers. At 6:00 p.m. dinner is served family style. Guests and volunteers share the meal together. Families are responsible for their children and help with clean up and chores.
  • After dinner, volunteers fellowship with families. Hosts and their families play games, help with homework, watch videos, 
or just talk.
  • Food for lunch is available in the kitchen area and parents make sack lunches for their families for the following day.
  • Adults turn in around 10:00 p.m. and children at their appropriate earlier bedtimes. Wake up is around 6:00 a.m. One or two volunteers will spend the night at the congregation.
  • Breakfast is served around 6:30 a.m. during the week; typically cereal and other convenient foods. All families leave the site before 7:00 a.m.
  • On Saturday the families can sleep in and leave before 8 a.m. 
  • All families do their laundry from 8 to 10:30 a.m. at a site close to our Day Center. We provide detergent and money for the washers and dryers.
  • If they have no other plans, families can stay at the Day Center from 10:30 a.m. until they leave for the host congregation. A staff person and/or volunteer are present.
  • Families can visit friends or go out for the day with prior arrangement with the case manager.
The following Sunday
  • On Sunday, the families pack up their mattresses and belongings, break down tents if required, and leave the site before 8 a.m. to be transported to the next host congregation.
  • If they have no other plans, families may stay at the Day Center from 10:30 a.m. until they leave for the host congregation. A staff person and/or volunteer are present.
  • Families can visit friends or go out for the day with prior arrangement with the case manager.
  • Families that want to attend services will usually do so at their own congregations or may choose to worship at a host congregation.

…and the next host congregation begins its week.

Becoming a Host Congregation

What facilities do host congregations need to have for guests?

Facilities must include a lounge area (with sofa, chairs, tables, TV), a dining area, a kitchen, bathrooms, and sleeping accommodations. Ideally, congregations provide a separate room, such as a classroom, for each family. If that is not possible, a fellowship hall or other large room can be divided by partitions to provide privacy.

Our building is in use almost all the time. How will we find the space?

Churches and synagogues are busy places with many demands on their space. Rarely does a perfect space exist. Hosting almost always means making some scheduling adjustments for activities and meetings. For example, four or five times a year, AA or the Bible Study Group may need to move their Tuesday night meeting to another room.

What are the insurance implications of participating in the Network? Does the congregation have to amend its policy?

Each local Family Promise Network must carry general liability insurance. Congregations are usually covered by their own property and liability policies because IHN is considered to be an outreach ministry, a regular activity of the church like a youth sleepover or Friday night supper. Most congregations find they do not need extra insurance to be hosts. To be certain, each congregation must contact its insurance agent.

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